Midweek Reflections

“Squeak, Squeak”

This Weeks Meditation: “Squeak, Squeak”  
Read:  Luke 18:9-14

I heard the story one time about an old man in his rocking chair. As he rocked, he began to hear these loud squeaks and tried several times to get rid of the squeaks in the rocking chair.  The angry man finally went and got his ax and chopped the squeaky chair to pieces.

As the old man was walking away he noticed that the squeaks were still there. He realized they were in his knees.  Sometimes the problems that we see in others are problems that exist within ourselves. So, before we destroy everything else, perhaps we need to decide if we are a part of the problem.

That is the basis of this parable that Jesus tells in Luke 18.  Jesus is warning us to not be too proud or judgmental of others.  In verse 14 he says that the tax collector is the one who went home justified before God.  Why?

Because he humbly admitted his shortcomings and asked for mercy instead of proudly proclaiming that he had no squeaks like the Pharisee was doing.  Jesus ends the parable by saying, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

This past Sunday I preached about “teaching moments.”  Perhaps when we are quick to criticize others or find fault in them we would do good to ask the Lord if this is really a teaching moment for ourselves.  Maybe there is a squeak in us that God wants to use a little WD40 on?

It’s good to be confident in our salvation and know that God is with us, but it is entirely different when we begin to look down on others and their faults.  Jesus is teaching here to be humble and to pray for others instead of being critical of them.

Make it personal:  If you find yourself being critical of someone this week put everything on pause for a moment.  Ask yourself if that is the right attitude to have and then think about this parable that Jesus gave us.  Nothing can fix our squeaks like the Word of God!

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



“Surrounded”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Surrounded”
Read: Psalm 125

As I read this Psalm this morning I wondered if Mount Zion High School has ever considered using verse 1 as their motto, it says, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”  That’s better than any school fight song I have heard.

All kidding aside, this Psalm is a wonderful comfort for us when we are going through a difficult time in life.  Maybe it is fear, anger, disappointment, or an attack that you are under right now.  This Psalm reminds us that the Lord is surrounding his people now and forevermore.

It says that the wicked will not win against the righteous, and it reminds those who are righteous to not use their hands to do evil.  In other words, trust in the Lord for deliverance and not in your own power, strength, or attacks on others.

Henry Law, when referring to the Lord once said, “His center is everywhere, His circumference is nowhere.”  God is present everywhere if we will look for him and trust in him to help us in our greatest hours of need.  He will not leave you or forsake you.

St. Patrick’s prayer says it well:  “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me;  Christ to comfort and restore me; Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

The 125th Psalm is a testimony to all of the above.  It is a reminder that we are surrounded by Christ in every aspect of our lives.  The good, the bad, the difficult is what he wants to help us with.  In the last verse the Psalmist says, “Peace be upon Isreal.”  Take that and put your name in place of Israel today.  “Peace be upon (your name)!”  That is the Lord’s proclamation over your life this week!

Make it personal:  What is your greatest challenge this week?  Name it, and remind it that your are surrounded by God and it will not overcome you.  You are a child of God and this Psalm says, “The Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”

Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“Perseverance”

This Weeks Devotional:  “Perseverance”
Read: Philippians 3:12-21

Last night I was fortunate enough to be at the Illinois vs.
Ohio State basketball game at the Assembly Hall.  It will
probably go down in history as one of the most memorable games
due to the fact that Ohio State was ranked 5th in the nation
and Brandon Paul had one of the best individual performances
in school history. (43 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocked shots,
15-17 free throws)

But the game did not start that way for Paul.  In the first
couple of minutes he committed 4 straight turnovers.  At that
point I said to the person sitting next to me, “It looks like
Paul is not on his game tonight.”  Boy was I wrong!

After overcoming that rough start Brandon Paul lit up the
Assembly Hall like never before and it made me think of the
word “perseverance.”  How often do we let a rough start drag
us down to a frustrating finish?  We can take each day of our
lives and relate it to that.  What we need to remember is that
a rough start does not guarantee a rough finish.

Even in living out our faith in Christ we have difficult
seasons.  That’s why Paul (Not Brandon) writes in Philippians
3:12 “But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ
Jesus took hold of me.”  Jesus promises a good finish if we
will place our trust in him and persevere.

Samuel Johnson once said, “Great works are performed not by
strength but by perseverance.”  Most everyone knows that
Abraham Lincoln persevered through many, many failures before
finally becoming one of our greatest Presidents ever.

We need to remember that the word “persevere” comes from the
prefix “per” which means “through.”  When you put that with
the word “severe” it means to keep pressing on, trusting God,
looking up, even through difficult circumstances.”  I’m sure
that some of you are in that difficult circumstance right now.

The great preacher of many years ago Charles Spurgeon said,
“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”  Last night was
just a basketball game (a great one at that) but it reminded
me once again how important it is to press on, even when your
game starts with four straight turnovers.

Make it personal:  Press on, look to Jesus, pray about your
situation and don’t give up.  Give your failures, your
shortcomings, and your challenges to Christ and ask him to
give you the strength to press on in your life.  At the end of
the day you just might get carried off of the court on
someone’s shoulders. (Brandon Paul did last night)

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

Arthur Mennonite Church


“Wisdom of their ways”

This Weeks Devotional:  “Wisdom of their ways”
Read: Psalm 36:9; Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 16:22

Every other week I go to the Arthur Home to read to the residents there.  I spend a half hour reading various books from start to finish over time.  Recently I started reading Billy Graham’s new book entitled “Nearing Home, Life, Faith, and Finishing Well.”  It has been interesting to see and hear some of their responses as they listen to Pastor Graham’s wisdom of 93 years. (Many of them are close to the same age as Billy Graham and can relate to what he writes)

It has been a good experience for me as well.  As we begin a new year I am reminded again about the wisdom that the older generation has to share with us.  In those scriptures above David and Solomon remind us as well about the “words of the Godly” and the “life giving fountain” of wisdom that older believers have to share with us.

Even those who are 10 years older have had 10 more years of experiences, and life situations to learn and grow from.  We would be wise to tap into that wisdom and use their stories and their advice to help us in our Christian journey.

It is also important for us to think about who we can mentor.  At any age there is always someone younger that can be helped by some of the experiences that you have had and learned from.  When we encourage the next generation of Christians we are planting seeds for God’s kingdom that will flourish long after our time on earth is over.

I ran across a poem by Lanette Kissel that says it well….

“They have made their share of mistakes, may have learned life’s lessons the hard way.  It has taken years of living and learning to turn their hair to lovely shades of gray.  Though their hearing and eyesight may be weak, and the gait of their walk may be slow, they are able to point you in the direction it would be best for you to go.  They have seen the sun rise and set on an endless number of days.  You know you can surely benefit from the wisdom of their ways.  Do you find that they are truly wise, or do you think of them as simply old?  Yet realize that their knowledge and insight are worth more than silver and gold.”

Make it personal:  Who is a mentor to you?  Who can you mentor?  These are good questions to ask as we begin a New Year.  Remember that each interaction you have with an older or younger person may be an opportunity to learn or to teach.

Many blessings in the year ahead,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“Messiah”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Messiah”
Read: John 1:35-42

The past several weeks I have been writing about various Christmas songs that we have sung through the generations. This week I am writing about one that is not sung as often as it is listened to.  The original title of this musical composition was known simply as “Messiah.”  Through the years however it has become known as “Handel’s Messiah” for the one who composed it many years ago.

George Frideric Handel composed this music in 1741, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the early King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.  The musical was first performed in Dublin, Ireland on April 13,1742.

The history of this music is far too complex to share in a short midweek devotional, but a few of the inspirations are reminiscent of when Jesus’ first disciples “found the Messiah” in the first chapter of John’s gospel.

The extensive music for “Messiah” was completed in just 24 days of swift composition.  Some people have said this testifies to the divine inspiration that Handel received as it was being composed.  At the end of the manuscript Handel wrote three letters in all capital letters.  They were “SDG.”

This stood for the phrase “Soli Deo Gloria” which in English means “To God alone the glory.”  It is interesting that even though that was his desire that this has become well known as “Handel’s Messiah” today.  Most likely he would be disappointed in that addition to his original title.

A story has been passed down for years about an instance in 1743 when King George II was present at the first performance of the “Messiah” in London.  Apparently he feel asleep and when the “Hallelujah Chorus” began he rose to his feet thinking that it was his cue to do so.  The reason he stood up is unclear but ever since that time it has been a tradition to stand once that part of the musical begins.

As we celebrate Christmas this weekend let’s remember that this birth signifies the birth of our “Messiah” the Savior of the world.  The meaning goes far beyond the stable in Bethlehem and it continues to stir the words of Jesus’ disciples even today when someone proclaims, “I have found the Messiah.”

Make it personal:  If you are unfamiliar with Handel’s “Messiah” I would encourage you to listen to some of it this week.  If you get the time you may even want to watch a performance of the musical and become more familiar with one of the classics of the Christmas season.

P.S. The Midweek Devotional will take a week break next week and return on January 4.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“Little Drummer Boy”

This Weeks Meditation:  “The Little Drummer Boy”
Read: Matthew 2:1-12

This week I continue with the theme of Christmas songs and how they came about and what they mean.  The song I choose for this week is not one that is often used in church.  The song about the little drummer boy does however have some spiritual encouragement for us.

This song was originally known as “Carol of the Drum” and was written in 1941 by American composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis.  The first recording of the song was done in 1955 by the Trapp Family singers of Austria who are also well known through the famous musical “The Sound of Music.”

The lyrics to this song talk about a poor young boy who is summoned by the Magi (Wise Kings) to the nativity of Jesus.  When the boy arrives he realizes that the others have gifts for Jesus and he has come without one.  Without a gift to give, the young boy gets out his drum and plays his drum for Jesus and the new parents.  In the song he says, “I played my best for him, and he smiled at me.”

This song has been recorded thousands of times through the years by many individuals and groups.  While it’s a beautiful song with a peaceful rhythm it is also a song with a great reminder for all of us.

God has blessed us all with various gifts.  Jesus is not as concerned about what gifts we bring to him as he is with us using the gifts we have been blessed with for God’s purposes on this earth.  This song begs us to ask, “What gift do I have and how am I using it to please Jesus?”

Sure, it is a bit embarrassing if we arrive at a party and everyone has a gift except us, but sometimes the gift we can bring is already a part of who we are and not a material item.  We can share the gift of encouragement, of love, of concern or comfort with someone.  Those are characteristics of Jesus we should carry around with us at all times.

I hope we can share those with others this Christmas season.  I am sure they will make much more of an impact than any expensive gift we can give.  Jesus has blessed you with many gifts, use them for his glory and his purposes.

Make it personal:  When you hear “The Little Drummer Boy” this Christmas season stop and think about the gifts that God has given you.  If you showed up without a gift, what could you share out of who God created you to be?  After all, most of us don’t carry a drum around with us wherever we go.

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




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