Midweek Reflections

“My Hope”

This Weeks Meditation:  “My Hope”
Read: Psalm 37:1-9

Where do I truly place my hope?  I asked myself that candid question this week as I listened to this weeks #1 Christian song on the radio by Aaron Shust.  It is entitled “My hope is in you.”  Here are the lyrics to the chorus….

“My hope is in You, Lord, All the day long, I won’t be shaken by drought or storm, A peace that passes understanding is my song, And I sing, My hope is in You, Lord.”  That is the encouragement we hear in Psalm 37 as well.

David realizes that the things this world offers are so empty and pale in comparison to the hope we find in the Lord.  He says, “Evil people may try to cut us off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” (v.9)

It seems like every time we surf the web or turn on the T.V. we have somebody or some company trying to offer us the remedy to all of our ills.  “Your hope for happiness is found in this new product.”  “Your cure for loneliness is found in this new book by such and such author.”  “Your hope for a better financial future is found in this new job or in this wonderful investment.”

David tried many of those kind of things until he realized that nothing compared to the hope that was found in his Lord.  In verse 4 he says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Can you truly say that your hope is in the Lord all day long?  When I asked myself that question I realized that even though I think that and want that, I often let the world trick me into another option.  When the road is rough it is easy to look in many different directions for help, but remember, our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Our God is a God of Hope, Restoration, Peace, Salvation, Forgiveness, and on and on.  If we commit our ways to Him and trust in him I am confident that He will give us that song of hope to sing along with Aaron Shust.

Make it personal:  To find more encouraging hope in God’s Word go to www.biblegateway.com and type the word “hope” in the search box.  You will be encouraged and you will realize once again that in God and His Word we have all the hope that we need.

Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church

“Faith in Action”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Faith in Action”
Read: Hebrews 11

This chapter in the Bible is often referred to as the Hall of Faith. It lists many people in the Bible and commends them for their faith in God during challenging times.  Not only did they have faith though, they also showed faithfulness to God as well.

We often hear about how we live in a world that is way over committed.  That may be true, but I sometimes wonder if our over commitment is causing us to become less committed in some of the areas that are most important.

I read an article last week that stated results from a recent survey that was taken.  In that survey they asked Christians if they were faithful church attenders.  Most said yes, but the interesting part of the results were in how most of those people defined faithful.  If they went to church once a month they answered that they were faithful church attenders.

I’m not writing this week to harp on church attendance, but that survey made me ask if we need to re access what faithfulness to God looks like.  If I take time to read my Bible, pray and have a quiet time with God once a week should I consider that being faithful to my relationship with Christ?

A couple weeks ago I started teaching a Junior High faith exploration class in church.  We have been talking about many of these people that are included in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith chapter. For me it has been a refreshing time of renewing my definition of what faith in action looks like.

We are using Michele Herschberger’s book entitled “God’s Story, Our Story,” and she uses the example of faith being like a tree that you plant in Kansas.  She says, “It takes commitment to watering it every day.”  I recently planted some fall grass seed in my back yard and I know exactly what she is talking about.  If I don’t faithfully show up to water it I probably won’t have any grass next spring.

My hope this week is that Hebrews 11 and these great examples of faithfulness to God will encourage each of us to re-evaluate what our definition of faithfulness looks like in all areas of life.  And even more important, where do my commitments lie?

Make it personal:  Think about your God calendar this week.  How does your time with Jesus, your commitment to God’s work, and your times of worship speak to Christ about your faithfulness to Him?  We are all busy, but in what way?  It’s best to be busy growing our faith in Christ, it has eternal value.

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

“A Few Kind Words”

This Weeks Meditation:  “A Few Kind Words”
Read: Romans 1:8-17

The Apostle Paul must have been a great encouragement to the early church.  While challenging them to a deeper faith in Christ he mixed in many uplifting words of encouragement along the way.  In verse 12 of this passage he talks about “being mutually encouraged by each others faith.”

The World Series starts tonight in St. Louis (Go Cards!) so I thought I would use a few baseball examples in this weeks meditation.  A few weeks ago I happened to watch an ESPN documentary on the foul ball that Steve Bartman interfered with back in the 2003 playoffs.

Many Cub fans blamed Bartman for their demise as that game went on and became very hostile towards him. Some were so hostile that he had to be removed from Wrigley Field and go into hiding just because he did something every one of us would have done in reaching to catch a foul ball.

As I watched the documentary I was disheartened to think that we as humans can sometimes act in such ugly ways.  Instead of putting an arm around people we often think it is our job to give them what we think they deserve.  If Paul would have done that with the early church who knows where Christianity would be today.

Our calling as Christians should be to come alongside those who are treated in unloving ways by the world.  Paul did it because he saw that example in Jesus Christ and knew that it was God’s desire for us to share kind words instead of words that hurt, kill, and destroy.

A story is told about Jackie Robinson who was the first black person to play major league baseball. He broke baseball’s color barrier and he faced jeering crowds in almost every stadium his team visited. Even some players would stomp on his feet and kick him.

While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he made an error. The fans began to yell ugly things at him and ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans continued their bombardment. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet and Robinson later said that it was that arm around his shoulder that saved his career.

As followers of Jesus Christ it is our calling to be that arm for others.  To show them the same compassion that Jesus has shown us by forgiving us of our sins and saving us from ourselves.  May God encourage us to share an arm and a few kind words with someone this week who needs them.

Make it personal:  Read Psalm 40 this week as a way to be encouraged in your own life.  Then take that encouragement with you to work, school, and wherever you go.  A few kind words this week could save someones life.  You never know!

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

“Enjoy Each Season”

This Week’s Meditation:  “Enjoy Each Season”
Read: Ecclesiastes 5:10-20

I was led to this passage from Ecclesiastes yesterday as I read my Rejoice devotional for the day. Verse 18 says, “It is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us.”

You don’t have to go far these days to hear someone lamenting about their busy week or their stressful schedule.  In fact, most of us can probably just listen to ourselves and get plenty of that. But what if we would just set out to enjoy the season we are living in and accept it with all it’s wonderful and stressful challenges?

That seems to be the advise of Solomon in these verses.  As he nears the end of his life he looks back and realizes that he missed some good opportunities along the way because of wrong priorities and a misguided outlook on life.  In verse 18 he is really saying, “enjoy your season of life right now, don’t always be waiting for the next season.”

The truth is, we can do that even if our season right now is busy and stressful. Our daughter is a senior in high school this year which makes for a very fun, busy, stressful, and sometimes overwhelming season.  College is on the horizon and there are big decisions to be made.  But what I’ve come to realize is that I need to focus on the very fun part more than all other parts.

We will only get this particular season with our daughter once in her lifetime.  Therefore, we should enjoy it, embrace it, and celebrate it as a gift from God.  With that attitude as our focus I am sure the Lord will help us to work out all the other details and decisions.

It may be something else for you this week or this year. A job situation, a family issue, a big change in your life.  Not all of our seasons are easy. But as Solomon mentions in these verses, life is short, and with each season we need to ask God to embrace us so we can embrace whatever it is each day will bring.  Let God embrace you this week!

Make it personal: As I write today I am reminded of the song “This is the Day.”  Maybe these words can help us to enjoy this day, week, and season.  “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!”  A great way for us to make this personal each and every day.

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

“Cover the Earth”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Cover the Earth”
Read: Acts 10:9-23

In a recent article by Steven Furtick on churchleaders.com I noticed a quote that got me thinking about Peter’s vision in Acts 10.  Steven wrote, “If Mark Zuckerberg can build Facebook for his own glory, what will we as the church build for the glory of God? If Oprah can start a network to cover the Earth with Oprah, why shouldn’t we use every resource at our disposal to cover the Earth with the name of Jesus?”

Now, I’m not sure what the motives of Mark or Oprah actually were or are, but the point Steven is trying to make is that we as God’s people should be doing creative things to cover the earth with Jesus. (I might also note that many creative things are already happening)

In Acts 10 Peter has this vision of a large sheet being let down to earth with all kinds of animals.  The message that God is trying to get across to Peter is that his vision for ministry needs to be expanded beyond the Jewish people.  In essence, God is preparing him for the call to go to Cornelius’ house and beyond with the gospel message. (Acts 10:24-48)

In the Body of Christ we have many people who are very gifted, creative, passionate, and talented. God has made us that way.  The question we must ask ourselves is, “What does God want me to do with those things?”  Each person has something to offer when it comes to covering the earth with Jesus.

At first that sounds like a huge undertaking, but when you consider each Christian using their own gift for the kingdom of God in some way it soon multiplies into something that covers that earth for the Glory of God. (I’ll refrain some starting to sing “it only takes a spark” at this point)

Yes, Mark and Oprah have gained a lot of money and recognition for covering the earth with their media and internet creations.  Let’s not judge them for their success, instead let’s ask ourselves how we can accomplish that kind of reach for the life changing message of Jesus Christ.

When Peter got to Cornelius’ house he realized what God was doing. In verse 34 he said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”  From there the book of Acts begins to cover the earth with the message of Jesus.  Let’s join in!

Make it personal:  Hopefully all of us are using our gifts for the Lord already, but during your prayer time today ask God to expand your vision of what it means to cover the earth with Jesus for his glory.  Remember, Facebook started as a small undertaking on the campus of Harvard and look at it now.  You never know!

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

“So Much Joy”

This Weeks Meditation:  “So Much Joy”
Read: Romans 6:1-14

This past week we saw the dramatic release of two men who were being held captive by the Iranian government.  Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer had been sentenced to eight years in an Iranian prison for what Iranian officials called espionage.

Both of them say they were just on a hike in the mountains between Iran and Iraq and were oblivious to being near the Iranian border. When they were arrested they were hiking with their friend Sarah Shourd who had been released at an earlier time. (the men were in prison for approx. two years)

It was amazing to watch their press conference upon returning to New York City and trying to imagine the joy and relief that they must have been feeling.  Sarah said, “There’s a huge burden lifted off of all our chests, so much joy.” She went on to talk about other things and then ended by saying, “I’ve never felt as free as I feel today.”

Many times throughout the Bible we are reminded that we as believer’s in Jesus Christ can say that as well.  Through the forgiveness and grace that Christ has offered to us with his life we too can have the huge burden of sin lifted from us.  Romans 6 is just one of the reminders of that freedom.

When Paul wrote those words he was writing from a first hand experience.  At one time in his life Paul persecuted Christians and committed other sins and then when he came to receive Christ he realized that Jesus’ grace for him brought so much freedom and joy to his life.

So often people carry around the weight of past sin and failures. It holds them captive and robs their joy. But Jesus offers us a way to release it all to him.  He died on the cross so that the weight could be lifted from your life.  The big question is…. Do you need to receive that grace and forgiveness of Jesus today for anything?

Make it personal:  If you are feeling the weight of sin and failure today I hope that you will receive Christ’s unconditional love for you and allow him to help you say those same words…. “There’s a huge burden lifted of my chest, so much joy!”

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

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