Midweek Reflections

A Quick Change

Read: Luke 19:1-10

When I hear the term Quick-Change I think of the man and women who often perform at half time of many basketball games. They change outfits in such a quick way that it almost seems impossible to the human eye. If you want to see them in action you can click on this link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAtXMpQK0hQ

In the past year we have heard a lot of talk about change. Especially within this last week after tragedies unfolded in Oregon and Connecticut. We have fiscal cliff challenges, economic challenges, and even challenges in our own personal lives.

One thing that life can bless us with is the opportunity to change, if we choose to do that. We are granted the ability to learn from past mistakes and make the future better. Unfortunately that talk of change often goes away too soon after things begin to return to normal.

Zacchaeus is a great example of someone who made a quick change for the better. He knew Jesus was coming his way and he did whatever it took (climbing up in a sycamore tree) to see Jesus and meet him. When Jesus came to his house his whole family was changed for the better.

In all of these situations, whether in our country or in our personal lives we have the opportunity to learn from the past and do better in the days ahead. Just like Zacchaeus realized, Jesus can play a huge part in that. In fact Jesus is the author of change and transformation in our lives.

This past May when our tour bus rolled through the streets of Jericho we went past a large Sycamore tree. I took a picture (attached) of that tree and had to think about the desire that Zacchaeus showed in bringing about change in his life.

My prayer is that the same can happen in our lives, in our country, and in our world that is constantly changing right before our eyes. May we change for the better and allow God to make us better!

I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. May his birth give us reason to celebrate the change he has already brought to our lives. Merry Christmas!

Make it personal: A New Year is almost upon us. That is always a great time to think about change. This year make a resolution to change something that will bring you closer to God and closer to his will and desire for your life.

Have a Merry Christmas,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

 

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Filled up with what?

Read: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

During the Christmas season in songs and in other places we hear about stockings be filled. When those stockings are filled they obviously have nice things put in them for the recipient, they bring feelings of joy and thankfulness.

In our lives it is important that we think about what we are filling our heads with. We live in a culture that seems bent on filling us up with things contrary to God’s Word and God’s will for our lives. Therefore, we have to be very careful as we pick books to read, T.V. shows to watch, and movies to enjoy.

In a recent Breakpoint commentary Eric Metaxes wrote about a story that has been in the entertainment news recently. Apparently one of the stars of the T.V. show “Two and Half Men” Angus T. Jones came out and said some surprising things about the very show that he stars on.

He said, “If you watch Two and a Half Men, please stop watching … Please stop filling your head with filth.” Eric Metaxes goes on to say… “Unlike a lot of people on TV and in the movies, Jones doesn’t gloss over the fact that what we watch can be harmful to our souls. “If I am doing any harm,” he said, “I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be contributing to the enemy’s plan.” Wow!”

You can read the whole commentary at this link:
http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/20926

Jones went on to say that after reading his Bible and seeking out God’s will in life he became very uneasy with the messages the show was communicating to people. This is not to pick on this one T.V. show, there are many out there in the same state of filth and it seems to get worse by the year.

In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul is encouraging the Christians at Corinth to flee things like sexual immorality and other sins. In verse 19 he says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?” In verse 20 he says, “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Christians have become much to unguarded about these things. We try to tell ourselves that it doesn’t matter, it won’t affect who I am or what I do by what I watch or play in our media saturated society. But it does matter as it relates to our relationship with God. God cares about what we are filled up with!

So, as you fill the stockings for Christmas this year think about how you are filling your own mind and how it affects your life as well as your relationship with the Savior. New Years Day is right around the corner, it provides us a new opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to bring about change in our lives for the good.

Make it personal: Please understand, I am not suggesting we never watch T.V. or go to the movies. I am only encouraging what Paul is encouraging in this passage. Don’t consume those things without thinking about what affect it may have on you and your family. God needs the first consideration in all of our decisions.

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



Successful Marriage

Read: 1 Corinthians 13

Last week I finished up the various Christ-like characteristics that were mentioned in Colossians. I began to realize how important those things are in our marriages. What about kindness, gentleness, humility, and patience in our marriages? How well are we wearing those?

Another question we should ask ourselves is “How peaceful is our marriage relationship?” Even though we are bound to have disagreements and difficulties that come along, how do we handle those in ways that are healthy and don’t end up sending us down a dangerous path?

I once read about a new widow who was agonizing about what slogan she should have inscribed on her husband’s tombstone. Should it say this, or should it say that? Finally she decided on these two: Rest in Peace – Until we meet again.

I’m not sure if she realized the irony in those two sayings or not, but our marriages should be a place where peace reigns. If we follow the indispensable words about love in 1 Corinthians 13 we should be able to live in that kind of peace, knowing that even through disagreements or frustrations our love for our spouse will trump them all.

Ruth Graham once said, “If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.” I have also heard it said, “If two people agree on everything, they double their chances of being wrong.”

I recently read a very good blog on this subject of successful marriages written by Perry Noble. He lists five things that a successful marriage has to have. I would encourage you to read his words. You can read that blog at this link.

http://www.perrynoble.com/blog/five-things-a-successful-marriage-has-to-have/

Notice that his fifth one is Jesus. If our lives are wrapped up in Jesus instead of ourselves we will be headed in the right direction and our marriages will be successful. Can we say that “Jesus is the Lord of our marriage”? If not, then you have found the place to start!

For those who have lived through a failed marriage, please know that the grace and love of Jesus for you is real. He knows your pain and your heartache and only he can bring healing to those wounds. He will bring you healing if you take it to the foot of his cross. His grace is sufficient!

Make it personal: Talk with your spouse about the five things or so that can make your marriage even more successful. Talking is always a great place to start, but actually putting those things into action will bring peace to your marriage and you will be successful in marriage.

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



Christ’s Closet: Patience

Read: 1 Timothy 1:12-20

This is the last bit of clothing from Christ’s closet. In past weeks I have been writing about the things that Paul encourages us to clothe ourselves with in Colossians 3:12. Patience is the last one. Interestingly enough I preached a message on this subject just a couple of weeks ago. You can find it at this link.

https://www.arthurmennonite.org/resources/sermons/

Patience is such a hard thing to “put on” in the morning when we know that everything in our culture is going to try to persuade us to be just the opposite. In the U.S. we are told that we should not have to wait on anything. However, patience holds many virtues that would serve us well in our faith, in our relationships, and in our success in life.

Vance Havner once said, “He who waits on God loses no time.” So often in the gospels we get the sense that Jesus was patient with people. In the 1st Timothy passage Paul says that Jesus was patient with him until he saw the light and came to find his salvation in him.

Perhaps this is why Jesus tarries in his return? He is patient with people and hoping that many more will come to find salvation before he returns to take his followers home to heaven. He is giving us time to bring our family and friends into his grace and see them become born again.

Time is important, we can’t be patient forever when it comes to people being saved. But we can “put on” patience as a part of our daily habit. We can be patient with other people and we can ask the Holy Spirit to help this become a part of who we are as a people.  In many instances we probably just need to slow down and enjoy the journey that God has put us on, instead of allowing our unfulfilled dreams or desires to gauge our contentment in life.

When we choose to be discontented, more often than not it is because we don’t want to wait on what God has for us around the next corner, or what God is maybe protecting us from that is around the next corner. Often times waiting ends up being a very good thing. It reminds me of the song we sang in church a couple weeks ago, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings as eagles.” And may that be us!

Make it personal: Try being patient this week. Start small (on the highway) and work up to bigger things (with your children). As you cultivate that characteristic it will become more and more a part of who you are and what you put on each day.

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



Christ’s Closet: Gentleness

Read: 1 Peter 3:8-17

First of all Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope your time with family and friends this week is a blessing and an opportunity to celebrate the goodness of our God. We are continuing to look into God’s closet this week with the garment of gentleness. These Christ-like characteristics are a continuation of Paul’s encouragement from Colossians 3:12-17 on how to clothe ourselves.

Charles Spurgeon, a well known British preacher from the 1800’s once said, “John Knox did much, but he might perhaps have done more if he had had a little love. Luther was a conqueror… but we who look upon him at a distance, think that if he had sometimes mixed a little mildness with it he might have done more good than he did.”

In 1 Peter 3:15 Peter give us a great nugget of wisdom, he says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

This is good wisdom as we prepare to gather with family and friends on this Thanksgiving week. So often our conversations turn to world events, religion, politics, and other things and our emotions tend to get a little on edge. It’s great to have discussions about those things and share ideas and perceptions but we must do that with gentleness and respect. Not lording our opinion in a way that cannot hear anyone else.

I was at a conference recently and one woman shared a very helpful sentence with our group that the Lord had given her that week. It was, “Always listen for what God may be saying through the other person before you start to think about your rebuttal.” This seems to be a way for us to practice the gentleness that Christ showed.

We need to speak truth and dispute falsehoods, but we need to do it in a way that shows we hear the other person, we respect the other person, but we are interested in a discussion about the subject and not a shouting match. Jesus was so gifted in this that by reading the gospels we can learn more about how he practiced gentleness in the midst of proclaiming truth.

I hope we will try to put this characteristic of Christ on in this week ahead. Be gentle in all that you say and do. In the end you will appreciate the peace, the friendship, and the lower blood pressure that comes from a gentle spirit.

Make it personal: Try putting that quote into practice. Try to listen closely to the person you are talking with and try to hear God’s voice in what they have to say before you think about what you have to say next.

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



Christ’s Closet: Humility

Read: Luke 9:46-48

I am once again continuing this week with the encouragement from Colossians 3:12-17 to clothe ourselves with the characteristics from Christ’s life. This week it is humility. What a great lesson to learn from the one who was truly the greatest person to walk this earth, and yet he was a servant to all and died for all.

Leslie Flynn once said, “If you’re humble, you don’t write the book on how humble you are, with twelve life-sized pictures in it.” I will keep that in mind as I write this midweek meditation because by no means do I claim to have this humility thing all figured out.

In fact I think many of us find ourselves in the same shoes as the disciples in this passage from Luke. We think of ourselves much too quickly. The one amazing thing about this passage in Luke 9 is that two verses before that the disciples begin arguing about who is the greatest even though Jesus was telling them about the death he was going to die for them.

Jesus must have been really frustrated at that point, as frustrated as a sinless man can be. He turns to them and uses a child as an example and says to them, “For it is the one who is the least among you all who is the greatest.”

Robert Morrison writes, “The great fault, I think, in our mission is that no one likes to be second.” This is definitely true in sports, who plays the game to finish second? But Morrison is speaking about our mission of faith and not a sporting event. It is valuable to put others before ourselves in the most important needs in life.

The apostle Paul encourages us to run the race of faith in a way to win the race, but he doesn’t say to trample over others on your way to victory. These are valuable things to remember in a world that is very self-focused and absorbed with looking out for number one.

As we awake each morning may we put on the humble attitude of Jesus Christ as we head out into the world. May we look for ways to put others before ourselves, and may the light of Christ be seen through us.

Make it personal: Pray for humility this week. Ask the Lord to show you ways that humility can become the main character trait that people see in your life. One thing is for sure, humility will never backfire or let you down!

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




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