Midweek Reflections

10 to 45 Minutes

Read: Proverbs 2:1-11

This Proverb is a great reminder of how valuable and applicable the Word of God is for our lives. Many of the things mentioned in these eleven verses are things we all desire; Wisdom, understanding, knowledge, discretion, and so on.

I realize that this is nothing new to most people. We know that the Bible holds these wonderful truths, promises, and guidance, but how often do we turn to them? I think one of the main excuses we use these days is “there’s not enough time.”

I ran across something recently that said that half of the books in the Bible can be read in ten to forty-five minutes each, and many of them can be read in less than twenty. That’s shorter than most T.V. shows last. In fact, it went on to say that the Old and New Testaments together can be read aloud slowly with expression in less than seventy-one hours.

I realize that 71 hours might wear someone out, but the reason I share that is that people often think of the Bible as this big, large, overwhelming book to open. But it doesn’t have to be viewed in that way or read in that way.

A little time here and there in God’s Word can be an invaluable help to get you through your day and week; and when you have more time you can enjoy studying deeper about the wonderful story of God and how it applies to your life.

In his book from the 1960’s “Profitable Bible Study” Wilber M. Smith writes, “It will probably astonish many to know that one single, normal issue of “The Saturday Evening Post” contains as much reading matter as the entire New Testament. Thousands of people read the Post through every week. The number of Christians who read the New Testament through every week, or even one whole book of the New Testament every week, are so few that we need not talk about it.”

Smith’s word’s are convicting. I imagine the same thing could be said about the daily newspapers we read today. The bottom line is that we need our Bibles and we need to be sowing the wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and discretion of the Lord into our lives on a daily basis. May each of us find that 10 to 45 minutes each day!

Make it personal: Sometimes it helps to find different ways to encounter God’s Word. Sometimes various translations can help or even using a commentary to see how the Spirit has spoken to others through that passage can help us. The Lord will use his own way to get his Word into your heart, you just have to be receptive.

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



“THINK”

Read: James 3:1-12

Homer was once quoted as saying, “The tongue of man is a twisty thing.”  And how twisty it can sometimes be!

It’s not too often I continue a Sunday message in my midweek email but this week I felt the Holy Spirit leading in that way. Sunday I said, “controlling our tongue is one of the toughest battles we face in our spiritual lives.”  As this week has gone on and I have heard from several of you “thinking” about your words, I’ve come to realize why this is.

Some battles in life are faced yearly or as they come along in life. Health concerns, family issues, work problems, school relationships, and the list can go on.  But each and every day that we awake and start a new day, we can be assured that our tongue and our words are going to come into play that day.

Sometimes it is our words, and at other times it can be our attitude or our tone of voice.  Francois de la Rochefoucauld (same that name really fast five times) once said, “Ninety percent of the friction of daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice.”  Very interesting thing to think about.

I shared an acrostic Sunday that helps us to think about our words and our tone before we speak, it went like this….

T …. is it True
H …. is it Helpful
I …. is it Inspiring
N …. is it Necessary
K …. is it Kind

Not that all of our communication has to be totally necessary or inspiring, but by asking these questions we can think about how our words and our tone will affect our family, our friends, our co-workers, our classmates, and …….. ourselves.  Yes, the words coming out of our mouths can drastically affect us as well.  They can give us a good feeling about ourselves or a not so good feeling about ourselves.

I’m not sure how you have applied James 3 to your interactions this week but I would encourage you to read it again sometime in your devotions.  And then pray and ask the Lord to help you in this area.  We can never be reminded enough about the power of our words…. spoken, written, or texted.

Make it personal:  On Sunday it was mentioned that someone at work has this acrostic posted in front of them throughout their day.  I am doing that here at my desk and I would encourage you to do the same.  Put it in a place that you will see it often.

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



The weary find rest

Read: Matthew 11:28-30

The Christian music group “Mercy Me” is probably best known for the most popular Christian song ever recorded. “I can only Imagine” topped Christian charts for weeks and weeks and even made it’s way up the secular charts some years ago when it was released.

It is a great song, and it introduced me to this wonderful group and the many songs they have released since; But one song that they recorded before people even knew about them may be one of their most powerful. “In You” speaks to what Jesus is saying in Matthew 11:28-30. In Jesus there is hope for the weary, the blind, the hungry, and the defeated. Here is a link to one of the YouTube video’s of this song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-86VTOuZWQ

One of the personal comments below that song on YouTube says,

“My life has been filled with more pain and disappointments than words can express! You Jesus refuse to give up on me and continue to soften and heal all the broken areas in my heart. You sing songs of love reminding me of how you feel! I find myself falling in love with you and having hope restored!”

Maybe you can relate? Or maybe you just need a fresh reminder this week of what Jesus said in verse 28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

We can continue to rely on ourselves and be burdened and weary, or we can release it to Jesus. Whatever it is, I hope that you will release it to Christ this week. often in life we are faced with that decision of self-reliance or reliance on God.

In his book “Believe and Belong” Bruce Larson shares a story of when he counseled people in New York City. He said that he would often walk them down to the RCA building on Fifth Avenue and show them the large statue of Atlantis carrying the world on his shoulders.

He then would walk them across the street to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take them behind the alter where there was a small statue of Jesus as a young boy holding the world in his outstretched hand.

The point was obvious, you can decide to carry the world on your own shoulders or you can give your life to Christ who will carry it for you. Jesus promises us that we will find rest in him, no matter what we are facing in life.

Make it personal: Stop what you are doing right now and take a minute or two to pray. Name what you need to release to Jesus right now and ask him to give you the rest that you need. He promises “you will find rest for your souls.”

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



Strong and Courageous

Read: Joshua 1:1-11

In many Mennonite Church libraries you can find a very large and heavy book that is entitled “Martyr’s Mirror.” This book records the many stories of Anabaptists who were persecuted and killed during the reformation period in the 1500’s.

It is often hard to read those stories and to grasp how cruel and hateful our human race can be to each other. It is even more disappointing to realize that many of those doing the killing were fellow Christians. But despite those hateful and violent actions so many early Anabaptists stayed strong and courageous in their faith and beliefs.

The Lord spoke that phrase many times in this first chapter of Joshua. He encourages Joshua and the Israelites to “be strong and courageous” as they enter into the promised land. They will need this encouragement for the many battles and struggles that they will encounter.

The truth is, many people are still persecuted for their faith today. They know what it means to have to be strong and courageous in the midst of life. Even today there are many stories of people who choose to respond in peaceful ways despite the hate and the persecution that they encounter.

I recently heard that there is a new updated version of Martyr’s Mirror that is now in the works. It will tell the new stories of our day when people around the world have stayed strong in their faith when faced with persecution and even death at times.

Jesus can help us be strong and have courage during those times of trial. Sometimes it is persecution for our faith, other times it is a trial that we are going through with our family, friends, or co-workers. When we face those various challenges we need to hear these words of the Lord spoken for us as well as Joshua.

In verse 9 it says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Remember those words this week as you face those people and things that are trying to defeat you. Respond in love and peace, and allow the strength of Christ to be your defense.

Make it personal: In this first chapter of Joshua there is one instance when Joshua says, “Go through the camp and tell the people!” Maybe that is our call this week. To hear these words of encouragement for ourselves, but then to also share them with others who may need to hear them.

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



Life Restored

Read: John 11:17-44

This summer has been very dry! Perhaps I should have used two or three exclamation points there? It was hard to see the grass dying, the gardens struggling, and the crops in the field gasping for moisture. I sometimes wondered if the grass would ever return to the lush green color that we are used to in Central Illinois.

But then a couple of weeks ago we received a little rain, and then several days later it rained a little more, and before you knew it the lawns began to come back to life. Even though we still need more rain it was amazing to see how quickly the green was restored in our lawns.

In one way it has been a reminder for me about the restoring power that Jesus has! We see it often in scripture where someone’s life is barren, dry, and sometimes even dead, and Jesus restores them to life. We also see it often in our lives as well. In the story of Lazarus (John 11) we see that Jesus even has the ability to raise Lazarus from the dead.

In verse 25 of John 11 Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” You see, Jesus wants to see everyone restored to life. This is why he has promised eternal life in heaven to those who believe in him as God’s Son and place their faith in him as their Savior.

That restoration even takes place while we live in this world. We all have difficult times come into our lives. Times that we would describe as a drought or a very hard situation. Jesus wants to help us through those times and bring life and restoration to those dry times.

We have prayed for rain this summer so that God’s creation could be restored, are we praying for that same type of restoration in our own lives? Jesus has the power to do it, as the popular worship song proclaims “He is Mighty to save.”

I hope that we will call on Jesus much like Lazarus’ sisters called on him when their brother died. They had to be patient for him to arrive, but he did, and he always will if we trust in him to restore us to life.

Make it personal: What would you define as a drought area in your life right now? Have you prayed for rain? Have you asked the one who is the resurrection and the life to bring restoration and life to you and that situation? The Lord is faithful and hears us when we call.

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



“Reminders”

Read: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

One of the things I am known for around our house is being “The Reminder.” I get teased about it often and I probably drive my wife and kids crazy with it sometimes. I want to always be sure that nothing falls through the cracks.

In some ways that is what Deuteronomy 6 is telling us to do with the tenants of our faith in God. Impress them upon your children, talk about them often, write them on the door frames of your houses it says. In other words, keep your faith and the Lord’s promises in the forefront of all that you do, say, and see.

Last week there was an article in one of the local newspapers about keeping items from your favorite vacation destination around your house as decorations. They said that this was a way to always feel like you are on vacation while being at home. An interesting idea and its amazing how it parallels what this passage is saying.

If it works for vacation destinations why wouldn’t it work for our faith as well? As you look around your home how many reminders are there about your life in Christ? If someone walks in your home would they immediately know that you believe in God and that you follow Jesus Christ? Think about that the next time you prepare to decorate.

The concept of this Old Testament text is that we should keep these things in front of us at all times. They remind us of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love for us. It encourages us on a bad day, they can lift our spirits when we receive bad news, and they are a reminder that God will not leave us or forsake us.

The walls are not the only place that should be decorated with these reminders. Our lives in the family nest and the public square should be a testimony to our faith. This text gives us the idea that it should encompass every facet of our lives. And why wouldn’t we want it to? It is the will of our father in heaven and by following and obeying his will we are reminded daily, even hourly, of his love for us.

Make it personal: Find some things to place around your house that will be reminders of God’s promises to you and your family. On the walls, on the dressers, in your closet. It’s really more about reminders than it is decor.

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




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