Midweek Reflections

“God is Like…”

This Weeks Meditation: “God is like…”
Read: Mark 4:35-41

This week my wife Rhonda and I have been leading the Junior High Bible School group on various adventures around the Arthur area. These adventures always have to do with our scripture lesson for the day. We were pleasantly surprised that the 15 passenger church van was not large enough to haul all the kids, so we had to incorportate a few extra vehicles for transportation.

We are talking each day about different “Pictures of God.” One day we talked about how God is a servant (we went to the Arthur Home to serve) and we see that in the life of Jesus his Son. One day we talked about how God is our guide (we went to Brad O Clen campsite and walked the trails) and can lead us down the right paths.

The first day we looked at this passage from Mark 4 where Jesus calms the storm. That day we talked about the many instances in the Bible where water is present. Jesus calmed the storm, he called his disciples to be fishers of people, he walked on the water, and the kids mentioned many more.

The theme that day was that God is like a Lifegaurd. We talked about how he protects us, and saves us. I shared with them a story about my father in which he recently recounted for me. When he was young (11) his family was visiting the Atlantic ocean and he was playing out in the water when a rip tide pulled him out further than he could touch.

He didn’t know how to swim and began to yell for help, much like the disciples might have done in the storm on the sea of Galilee. Fortunately some people near by, along with his father, were able to save him from drowning.

In our lives we often face storms or rip tides that come along, but do we think about God being there to save us? Do we call out to him for help and turn to him in prayer and submission? Just like a lifegaurd is always watching those swimming, God is watching over us. He is ready and able to rescue us from whatever storm life seems to send.

Don’t you want to hear the words of verse 39 proclaimed in your life, in your storm? “Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be Still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:39)

Make it personal: What is your storm right now? Name it and take it to God. He wants to save you and bring quietness and stillness to your life and that situation. In this world we will have trouble, but Jesus has overcome the world! Praise the Lord!

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



“Prayer Position”

This Weeks Meditation: “Prayer Position”
Read: Luke 18:9-14

What is the correct posture or position for us to pray? Perhaps you have heard about the three pastors who were discussing this question while a telephone repairperson worked nearby. “Kneeling is definitely the best,” claimed one. “No,” another contended. “I concentrate better while standing with my hands outstretched to heaven.”

“You’re both wrong,” the third pastor insisted. “The most effective prayer position is lying humbly, facedown on the floor.” The repairperson could contain himself no longer. “Hey, fellas,” he interuppted. “The best prayin’ I ever did was hangin upside down from a telephone pole.”

Truthfully there is no correct posture or position for us to pray. In fact you can be working very hard at your job and still be in a spirit of prayer and communication with God. You can be driving (with eyes open) and be praying to the Lord. You can also be in the most safe or challenging situation in your life and your prayers of petition and thanksgiving will be heard.

When Jesus told this parable in Luke 18 he was reminding the disciples (us), and others that their attitude of prayer was more important than the position in which they prayed. The Tax Collector in this parable prayed that God would forgive him of his sins while the Pharisee (the religious person) was more worried about making sure that people saw and heard his prayers.

In verse 14 Jesus says, “I tell you that this man (the Tax Collector), rather than the other (the Pharisee), went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Praying to God is a vital part of our Christian life. I hope you pray in many different ways and often, but I hope that it is to communicate with God and not just another task to check off your to do list. God hears the prayers of his people and God loves it when we turn to him for help, for worship, for thanksgiving, for confession, and for anything else in life.

Make it personal: Think about your attitude when you pray. Are most of your prayers filled with petitions to God or some other request? Do you take the time to include thanksgiving, worship, and adoration in your prayers? Don’t worry necessarily about what position your in, just focus on what attitude you have and God will be there with you.

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

 



“Trinity”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Trinity”
Read: Acts 2:1-40

What do you think of when you hear the word “Trinity?”  Do you
think of the name of a church? Actually, it is a key part of
our Christian theology.  It proclaims God as three divine
persons mentioned throughout scripture. The Father (God), The
Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit (Sent when Jesus
ascended to heaven). The three persons are distinct yet
coexist in unity, and are co-equal, and co-eternal.

Although the word “Trinity” is not used in scripture it is
clearly referenced many, many times throughout the Old and New
Testament.  In the Old Testament prophets would prophesy about
the coming Messiah and the Spirit of God, in the New Testament
we see those prophecies become reality. This coming Sunday is
Pentecost Sunday in which we celebrate the coming of the Holy
Spirit mentioned in Acts 2.

In his book “God in Three Persons: A Doctrine We Barely
Understand,” Dr. Ray Pritchard shares an interesting
illustration of the Trinity that comes from world-renowned
scientist Dr. Henry Morris.

He notes that the entire universe is trinitarian by design.
The universe consists of three things: matter, space, and
time. Take away any one of those three and the universe would
cease to exist. But each one of those is itself a trinity.

Matter = mass + energy + motion
Space = length + height + breadth
Time = past + present + future

Thus the whole universe witnesses to the character of the God
who made it.  It brings Psalm 19:1 to life that says, “The
heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work
of his hands.”

As we celebrate Pentecost and the work of the Holy Spirit in
our lives and in our world we should also celebrate the fact
that God is The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Three
persons, One God, and an ongoing flow of power, strength,
forgiveness, and whatever else we need to live our lives.

It is often said that the Trinity is a mystery of the
Christian faith.  But if you have experienced the love of God,
the healing and grace of Jesus, and the guidance of the Holy
Spirit, there is no mystery about it.  Therefore, let’s live
in the truth of the Trinity!

Make it personal:  I encourage you to do a little more
studying and learning this week on the doctrine of the
Trinity.  With Study Bibles, Google, Bing, the internet, and
smartphones, we have an unlimited amount of ways to study and
learn, but they are only helpful if we use them in ways that
help us to learn and grow in our Christian walk.

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



“What a Trip!”

Read: Luke 5:1-11

The last Midweek Meditation I wrote was on April 25.  Since then I have had the incredible opportunity of visiting the places in Israel where Jesus himself walked, taught, healed, and provided the way of salvation to all people.  I can’t thank my church family enough for supporting me financially and spiritually in this wonderful opportunity!

I traveled with a tour organized by John Walsh and Bible Telling ministries (www.bibletelling.org).  We miraculously visited over 50 Biblical sites in 10 days and heard over 170 Biblical stories told by professional storytellers from those sites. It was a tour of the Holy Lands like no other!  I also had the privilege of experiencing this with my father who made the trip with me.

Since I have been back I have been asked many times, “What was the best or most moving place from your trip?”  That’s a hard question to answer because each day there was an experience that was as unique and meaningful as the day before.  Sure, there were a few that stand out, like standing on the sea of Galilee and thinking about this passage from Luke 5.

As our group took our shoes off and waded out into the water where this calling of the first disciples took place, it was impossible not to break out in song.  We sang several songs, but one song really stood out to me.  In the song “There’s something about that name,” there is a line that says, “Kings and Kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about that name (Jesus)!”

We had seen many ruins of past kings and kingdoms but they had all passed away and there were mainly stones left to mark their long ago existence.  But, the name, the power, the ministry of Jesus lives on!  When he called those first disciples on that shore it was just the first of millions who would be called to follow him and be his disciples (followers).

The main reason a trip like this is so powerful is because it reminds you of the power of God that is still alive in our world through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Ages will pass away, stones will crumble, but the Good News of salvation for all people is still alive, and this was the place where it all started or happened. All I can say is, “What a trip!”

For those interested in hearing more about my trip, I will be sharing my many pictures and experiences at Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St., Arthur, IL on Sunday night, May 27 at 6:00 pm.  I promise I will not share all 1,200 pictures.
🙂

Make it personal:  In John 20 the disciple Thomas had to see the nail marks in Jesus’ hands to believe that he had risen from the dead.  After that Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Not everyone will get the chance to see the Holy Lands in their lifetime, but even so, blessed are those who believe!

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



“This is the Day!”

This Weeks Meditation:  “This is the Day!”
Read: Psalm 118

We sing the song, we love the Psalm, but do we appreciate the day for what it is?  A gift from God, given to us to celebrate, enjoy, and appreciate.  In his book “Out live your life,” Max Lucado tells this story about how our busy days can sometimes keep us from appreciating what is right in front of us.

Max writes, “At 7:54 am, January 12, 2007, a young musician took his position against a wall in a Washington D.C. metro station.  He wore jeans, a long sleeved T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap.  He opened his violin case, removed his instrument, threw a few dollars and pocket change into the case as seed money, and began to play.

He played for the next 43 minutes.  He performed 6 classical pieces.  During that time, 1,097 people passed by.  They tossed money to the total of $32.17.  Of the 1,097 people, seven, only seven, paused longer than 60 seconds.  And of the seven, one, only one, recognized the violinist Joshua Bell. Three days prior to this metro appearance staged  by the Washington Post, Bell filled Boston’s Symphony hall, where the cheap tickets went for $100 a seat.  Two weeks after the experiment he played for a standing room only audience in Bethesda, Maryland.  Joshua Bell’s talents can command $1,000 a minute.  That day, in the subway station, he barely earned enough to buy a cheap pair of shoes.

You can’t fault the instrument.  He played a Stradivarius built in the golden period of Stradivari’s career.  It’s worth $3.5 million.  You can’t fault the music.  Bell successfully played a piece from Johann Sebastian Bach that Bell called “one of the greatest achievements of any man in history.”

But scarcely anyone noticed.  No one expected majesty in such a context.  Shoeshine stand to one side, kiosk to the other. People buying magazines, newspapers, chocolate bars, and Lotto tickets.  And who had time?  This was a workday.  This was the Washington workforce.  Government workers mainly, on their way to budget meetings and management sessions.  Who had time to notice beauty in the midst of busyness?  Most did not.

Most of us will someday realize that we didn’t either.  From the perspective of heaven, we’ll look back on these days, these busy, cluttered days, and realize, that Jesus was playing the violin.”

The picture I attached with this weeks meditation is a wonderful example of what it looks like to cherish the moment, cherish the day, cherish the gift, and say thank you Jesus. The young girl has a wonderful smile, is at peace, and seems grateful for her place in this world.  Can we do the same?

Make it personal:  Allow the peace, the presence, and the glory of Christ to transform your day and your week into a new appreciation for the gift of each day we have to live.  Read this Psalm over and over if that will help.

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



“The Waiting Game”

This Weeks Meditation:  “The Waiting Game”
Read: James 5:7-12

I have often heard the term “The waiting game” used but I think I gained a new perspective on it this week when I learned about the Chinese bamboo tree.

You see, the first year that the Chinese bamboo tree is planted nothing happens.  It must be watered and fertilized but nothing comes through the ground.  The second year is the same, the third year, the same, the fourth year, the same.
But during the course of the fifth year, in a period of only 6  weeks, the Chinese bamboo tree will grow around 90 feet high.  Yes, I had to read it twice as well.  Over four years of waiting and then the finished product comes to fruition in only six weeks.  90 Feet!  Wow!

That gives new meaning to “patience is a virtue.” In the book of James we are told to be patient as we wait on the Lord’s return. James refers to the concept of planting a crop and waiting through the sun and rain for the eventual harvest.  We see much of that planting going on right now in Central Illinois.  But we know that we won’t see combines in the field for months.
But with other things in life it seems that our patience often wears thin.  In our hurry up culture would we even have the patience to wait for five years for something to peak through the ground like the Chinese bamboo tree?

I’m sure we all can think of things that we have waited on for a long time.  Sometimes that waiting involves times of difficulty and hardship as James talks about in these verses.  But then in verse 11 James says, “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered.  You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

As you play the waiting game, for whatever it is you have been waiting for, I hope that you will place your hope and trust in this Lord who is full of mercy and compassion.  God will help us persevere if we call on his name.
Someday he will return, and someday he will see to it that your patience is found to be a virtue.  Keep praying about it and keep trusting that Christ knows your situation.  You never know, after all the waiting it may just sprout up in a 6 week time frame.

Make it personal:  Name one thing you have been waiting on. Now, contemplate how your patience has been while waiting on that.  Then take some time to lift that thing in prayer to God.  As James reminds us (v.10), there are many great stories and examples in the Bible of patience and perseverance, and in those stories we can find hope to wait out our bamboo tree.

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




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