Midweek Reflections

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

Christ’s Closet: Kindness

Read: Ephesians 2:1-10

A couple weeks ago I shared about the Colossians 3:12-17 passage in which Paul talks about the various things we are to “put on” or “clothe” ourselves with. The first one was compassion, and the one following that is kindness. As you walk out of your home each morning this week are you putting on kindness?

William Penn once said, “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow-being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

This quote is a wonderful reminder that each day we live is one less day we have to be kind to someone else. Why would we want to fill it with being hateful, crude, demanding, and inconsiderate? Sometimes our uncontrolled anger takes us to those lowly places and nobody ever feels good about it afterward.

A spirit of kindness and consideration can go so far in blessing someone and making their day better. Jesus gives us so many examples of that in the gospels. His heart is full of kindness and his compassions never fail those in need.

I heard a story one time about Gandhi when he was boarding a train in India and one of his shoes slipped off. He was unable to retrieve it and so he took the other shoe off and threw it alongside the other one. When a fellow traveler saw this and asked him why he did that, Gandhi smiled and said, “the poor man who finds the shoe lying on the track will now have a pair he can use.”

In Colossians 3:12 Paul said, “clothe yourselves with kindness.” In other words, put it on with the rest of your wardrobe as you head out into the world each day. Put others before yourself. In Ephesians 2:7 he reminds us that this type of kindness has been shown to us through Christ Jesus.

Are we showing it to others? Kindness? Or are we letting anger, revenge, and discontent be the clothing that others see? Jesus has healed so many people and that kindness is what he wants to see in our daily lives as we interact with others.

Make it personal: As you pick out your shoes to wear this week think of Jesus and his kindness, think of what Gandhi did with his shoes, and then decide to walk in kindness toward those whom God will place in your path.

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

A Vote with Confidence

Read: Ephesians 3:14-21

I recently wrote an article for our local newspaper which comes out this week. Since the election is next week I thought I would share that in my midweek meditation this week. Here it is……

Next Tuesday our country will be having a Presidential election in case you haven’t heard by now. Many of us will be glad when all of the ads, emails, and facebook posts about the election finally calm down and allow our blood pressure to level out. But as Christians in a free country we should be thankful that we have the privilege to vote, even if it doesn’t always turn out the way we had hoped for.

I recently read how many things in history would have been different if it had not been for just one vote. One vote made Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector of the Commonwealth and gave him control of England in 1645. One vote caused Charles I to be executed in 1649. One vote kept Aaron Burr – later charged with treason – from becoming President in 1800. One vote elected Marcus Morton governor of Massachusetts in 1839. One vote made Texas part of the United States in 1845. One vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment in 1868, and one vote made Adolf Hitler head of the Nazi Party in 1923. Despite your passion or lack of it for politics it is important to exercise your right and your freedom to vote next Tuesday. Many people in the world still wish that they had that freedom.

With that said, we must also keep things in perspective. God is still in control no matter who wins any of the elections! In Ephesians 3:20-21 the apostle Paul reminds us of this when he writes, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

God is the one who can do what is immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, and it is to him that we should pray and make our hopes and desires known! When we vote it should be bathed in prayer, in our faith, in God’s Word, and in the example that Jesus taught in the New Testament. That way when we leave the voting booth we can be confident that despite the “choice of the people” our choice as Christians will always be to proclaim that God is in control and Jesus is Lord.

The prophet Jeremiah gives us great council in the Old Testament when it comes to these types of things. He was remembering the big picture as he saw Jerusalem under attack and the people being exiled. He says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) And to that we can all say, Amen!

Make it personal: First of all, get out and vote next Tuesday in the way that you feel God leading you to vote. Second, place your trust in him, that no matter what the results he is still in control. Third, pray for our leaders, our country and all the people of our world. Pray for peace, justice, and love to reign supreme.

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

Spiritual Clothing: Compassion

Read: Colossians 3:12-17

Each morning when we awake we head to the closet to figure out what we are going to wear for the day ahead. For some people this can be a short and easy process and for others it can be quite long and drawn out. Other factors like weather, schedule, and activities also factor into that decision.

In this third chapter of Colossians Paul is encouraging us to think about a different type of clothing. One that is more about who we are than what we look like on the outside. He says that “as God’s chosen people” we are to carry ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

This week I would like to write a little about the first one (compassion) and in the weeks ahead I will touch on these other spiritual characteristics that are good and healthy for the Christian to put on each and every day.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “If we could only read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” Truly, compassion is one of the most powerful ways to diffuse so much of the hatred and bitterness in our world.

It’s amazing to look at the life of Jesus and see how this was so true. In the story of the woman who was caught in adultery (John 8) Jesus uses compassion to make those about to stone her think about their own life and their own situation. Is this how they would want to be treated if they were in her fallen state?

Jesus picked her up and sent her off by saying, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” As we interact with people throughout our day we encounter all kinds of attitudes, failures, and missteps. It is often easy to be judgmental and course in our responses, but our Christian life in Christ should remind us to put on compassion and put ourselves in their shoes.

We often don’t know what people are going through when they act in a certain way that may offend us or hurt us. But maybe a compassionate response is just what they need to turn their day around or perhaps it will allow them to open up and share what is weighing on their heart that day.

Paul is basically encouraging us to be like the one we follow in Jesus Christ. Put on compassion as you walk out the door this week and allow it to be your ministry.

Make it personal: Pray each and every morning that Jesus would help you to be a compassionate and caring person that day to the people he puts in your path. They just might see Jesus in your response.

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

Up Yonder

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

This past week it was pretty incredible to see Austrian sky jumper Felix Baumgartner amaze the world when he went supersonic during a record-smashing 24-mile skydive above the New Mexico desert. But I have a feeling it will be even more amazing to go the other way.

In verse 17 of this passage it says, “We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” What a glorious day that will be for those who are ready!

When I was growing up in church one of my favorite hymns was “When the Roll is Called up Yonder.” It doesn’t get sung as much these days but it still holds a wonderful reminder for us of this promise in 1 Thessalonians 4.

The first verse of the hymn goes like this…..
“When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more, and the morning breaks eternal, bright and fair, when the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore, and the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.”

In this passage this week Paul is reminding us about the coming of the Lord. He reminds us that there is hope beyond the grave for those who believe in Jesus and have received him as the Lord of their life. As the song says, “the saved of earth shall gather.”

What a reassuring promise that someday either our life on this earth will turn into our life in eternity with Jesus or he may just return to take us before that. The truth is we don’t know when our last day on earth will be and we don’t know when Jesus will come again.

But the promise of eternal life in heaven is what gives believers hope for the here and now. In verse 18 Paul says, “encourage each other with these words.” We are to remind each other of this wonderful hope when things are tough and the world seems to be caving in around us.

Let’s do that for each other, and let’s be sure that we are ready when that roll is called up yonder. I hope we all can make the proclamation that this hymn makes. “When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there!”

Make it personal: If someone were to ask you what your favorite hymn is what would you say? Think about that and then think about how that hymn or those hymns or songs give testimony to your hope and the promises of Jesus.

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

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