Midweek Reflections

“Jesus, you go first”

This Week’s Meditation:  “Jesus, you go first”
Read: Ephesians 5:1-21

In years past we were familiar with the question, “what would Jesus do.”  That phrase had good intentions but it was marketed so heavily that over time it lost it’s impact even though the question was still important for Christian’s to be asking.

This past week we had Illinois Mennonite Conference Minister Chuck Neufeld at our church for our Renewal Weekend services.  It was a wonderful weekend and many powerful stories and examples were given to us as we considered putting God first in our lives.  But one of the most powerful lines consisted of just four words.  “Jesus, you go first.”

It’s a new twist to the old phrase but the intention is much the same.  Chuck mentioned that before we do anything in life we should approach it with the attitude of saying, “Jesus, you go first, and then I will go.”  If that brings pause or concern to us then perhaps we should reconsider our steps or our actions.

In Ephesians 5 Paul talks about being imitators of God.  He goes on to list many sins such as sexual immorality, greed, obscenities, foolish talk (gossip), coarse joking, and others.  In verse 7 he says, “Do not be partners with them.”  In other words, find other company to associate with.

When choosing friends, places to hang out, things to do, places to work, etc. we should invite Jesus to go before us.  If that does not feel right or comfortable then maybe we need to reconsider.  In verse 17 Paul says, “Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Thank you Paul for giving us this teaching and Thank you Chuck for giving us another way to test that will of Jesus before we move forward.  May the Lord go before us and guide us in our steps!

Make it personal:  What area in life has been testing you and tempting you recently?  Put this question to it and allow the Holy Spirit to speak into your life and lead you to be an imitator of God. Say, “Jesus, you go first!”

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



“Faithfulness”

This Week’s Meditation:  “Faithfulness”
Read: 2 Peter 1:3-11

Tomorrow (Sept. 15) is Arthur Mennonite Church’s 71st birthday.  AMC was started in 1940 with 57 charter members.  We don’t often celebrate a congregation’s birthday like we do our own birthday’s but maybe we should.  After all, each year that passes is yet another example of God’s faithfulness and the faithfulness of his people.

What 2 Peter 1:3-11 proclaims is that it’s really like a two-way street.  God’s faithfulness flows to us… “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness,” (v.3) and in return we hopefully remain faithful to him…. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and knowledge, self-control, perseverance, ……” (v.5)

This faithfulness of God’s people has been evident the past several years as some of those charter members of AMC have gone on to be with the Lord.  As the church gathers to celebrate their lives we also celebrate the commitment and faith they proclaimed through the years.

In reality, that faith and commitment is what makes Arthur Mennonite Church what it is today; an ongoing proclamation of God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s salvation, and yes, God’s faithfulness to us.

Those charter members have seen this church body through the good times and through the difficult times.  They have stood by each other with the hope that the Good News of the Gospel might be proclaimed to the people of Central Illinois and beyond.

Yes, God has been faithful and continues to be faithful.  And as his people my prayer is that we too will continue to be faithful to His call on our lives, both individually and as a church family.  Verses 10 and 11 of this passage end with some encouraging words, it says….

“My friends, you must do all you can to show that God has really chosen and selected you. If you keep on doing this, you won’t stumble and fall. Then our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will give you a glorious welcome into his kingdom that will last forever.”  2 Peter 1:10-11 (CEV)

Make it personal:  I think Chuck Neufeld may have some more to share along this theme at this weekends Renewal Weekend meetings.  Plan to come with the anticipation of how the Holy Spirit may speak into your life anew.  May we all be renewed to celebrate many more birthdays at Arthur Mennonite!

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



“Preventative Maintenance”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Preventative Maintenance”
Read: Proverbs 27

When you hear the words in my title this week you probably think about your car, going to the doctor, and other types of activities to care for your possessions, health, etc..  But there are also many wise things we can do in our spiritual lives to keep us in step with God.

Proverbs is a book with many wonderful wise quotations to keep us from heading down a path that is dangerous, sinful, or harmful for us.  Proverbs 27:12 says, “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

What Solomon is warning us about in that verse is that we need to be wise in how we live so as to prevent falling away from God or bringing on extra heartache that was not needed.  Often we can do little things along the way to prevent a larger problem down the road.  Just like with our car, our health, etc.

Pastor Andy Stanley wrote a great article recently entitled “Guardrails: Avoiding regrets in your life.”  What Andy was saying is that guardrails along the road are rarely noticed until you need one to keep you from going off the road.  They prevent you from going down an even steeper cliff when you do stray off the road.

That same concept can be applied to staying obedient to Christ, raising your children, keeping your marriage strong, and many other things in life.  If we ask God to help us we are taking the first step.  When we trust God to lead us he will keep us on the straight path and give us wisdom to save us from our own folly.

Andy Stanley writes, “Guardrails must be set intentionally—because culture’s gravitational pull is toward the very edge.”  First of all we must pray!  Pray for your family, pray for your spouse, pray for your church, pray that God will help you to keep the first things first in your life.

Second, we must be obedient to Christ.  He will help us, but we must also do our part in staying focused on his will and not our own.  The best place to start is by spending time with him in prayer each day.  He loves us and wants the best for us in this life.  His Holy Spirit can definitely help us resist that gravitational pull to the very edge.

Make it personal:  What area in your life do you need some guardrails installed?  Ask Jesus to help you with that.  Memorize Proverbs 27:12 this week and use it as preventative maintenance.  “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

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



“From pain to gain to joy”

This Weeks Meditation:  “From pain to gain to joy”
Read: 1 Peter 1:3-9

I have participated in many sports through the years and one
common theme that every coach stresses is “no pain, no gain.”
The idea is that you have to put in the hard work in order to
see the results come game time.  In some ways that theme works
in our spiritual lives as well; we learn from our mistakes, we
grow through times of pain and suffering, and we can often
grow closer to God if we place our trust in him.

That is what this passage in 1 Peter encourages us to
remember.  In verses 5-7 it says, “though now for a little
while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than
gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be
proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when
Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Yes, pain and suffering can help us grow stronger in our
faith, but that pain can also be damaging if it is not handled
in the correct manner.  I once heard someone say, “Don’t let
the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.”  What
they meant by that is that we should use those difficult times
to grow but at some point we need to leave the hurt,
resentment, and hard feelings in our past.

In verse 8 Peter talks about “an inexpressible and glorious
joy” that we should have because of our salvation in Jesus
Christ.  Our salvation in Christ is what sets us free from the
pain of the past.  Jesus wants us to live in that freedom and
that joy instead of being burdened by the disappointments in
our life.

Pain in this world is real!  Suffering in this world is real!
But in John 16:17-33 there are some very powerful verses in
which Jesus describes to his disciples about how their grief
will turn to joy.  In verse 33 Jesus said, “I have told you
these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world
you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the
world!”

There is no doubt that pain can bring us gain in many
different ways, but at some point we need to let go of the
pain and move into a new season of joy.  That joy is found in
the pages of God’s Word, the resurrected life of Jesus Christ,
and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  That reminds
me of another saying, “No Christ, NO peace : Know Christ, Know
Peace!”

Make it personal:  If you’re going through an especially
difficult time right now I hope you will hear these words of
Jesus that were spoken for you and your situation.  Read 1
Peter 1:3-9 and John 16:17-33 and let God’s Word remind you
that He is there for you.  His peace is your peace!

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



“Kind, smart, important”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Kind, Smart, Important”
Read:  Ephesians 3:14-21

Those of you who have read Kathryn Stockett’s book “The Help” or have seen the recent movie by that same name probably recognize the three words in my title this week.  One of the most powerful moments in this movie is when the nanny stoops down to the level of a little girl and tells her the words that she really needs to hear from her parents.

She says, “You are kind, you are smart, and you are important!”  It’s hard to watch that or listen to that without good feelings overtaking your emotions.  It’s just too bad that we can’t treat each other in that same manner more often!  Instead, our world so often tells us the opposite.

But as I heard those words I was reminded that we have someone in Jesus Christ who continually spills out this kind of love and affirmation over us.  In Ephesians 3:17-19 Paul says, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

You see, no matter what the world (or anyone) says about us, God has an unconditional and everlasting love for us.  It is so big that it is even hard for us to totally comprehend.  We live in a culture that often seems to look at the negative before the positive, and often we take it personal and feel unloved or attacked.

But Jesus affirms us, and fills us with the goodness, and the good news of God.  He leans down and whispers in our ear, “You are kind, You are smart, and you are important!”  And if we have any doubts about that we should turn to John 3:16-17 and read….

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Make it personal:  I’m not sure what words you have been hearing this week or this month, but you need to hear what God is saying to you.  The Christian music group Mercy Me says it so well in one of their songs, “You are treasured, you are sacred, you are his, You’re beautiful!”  Please don’t forget that!

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



Ways to Worship

This Weeks Meditation:  “Ways to Worship”
Read: Genesis 12:1-9

When it comes to worshiping God there are many different ways
that people choose to worship.  As we see in this Old
Testament passage from Genesis 12 Abraham and others often
worshiped by building alters to God.  In other places in the
Bible we see enthusiastic worship (David) as well as
contemplative worship (Mary).

Even today we all have different temperaments and
personalities when it comes to how we worship God.  None of
them are right or wrong as long as they are directed to
bringing praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to Jesus Christ.

In a recent article in “Thriving Family” magazine, Gary Thomas
shares 9 Spiritual Temperaments.  He says, “See if you can
find yourself in one or more of the following……

Naturalists’ (hearts open to God when they get outdoors)  God
seems real to them when they’re hiking under a big expanse of
sky or at least sitting under a tree.

Intellectuals (really like books, even the reference kind, and
live in a world of concepts)  They want to come out of their
devotional time and worship with new understanding.

Sensates (more aesthetically inclined) The artistic types that
prefer creative and original music or nice atmosphere and
architecture.  Worship is about seeing, hearing, feeling.

Traditionalists (find great meaning by worshiping in set
patterns, their own or historical ones)  They may organize
their life around scheduled times of worship and devotions.

Ascetics (meet God internally)  They prefer to shut out the
world and meet God in solitude and austerity.  Quiet and
orderly environment.  They don’t like distractions.

Activists (meet God in the vortex of confrontation)  They want
to fight God’s battles.  God is most real to them when they
are standing up for justice or working on the frontlines to
build God’s kingdom.

Caregivers (love God by loving others)  Providing care or
meeting needs in Jesus’ name spiritually energizes caregivers
and draws them closer to the Lord.

Enthusiasts (like the excitement and celebration of group
worship)  They probably buy more praise CD’s than books.  They
feed off enthusiasm of other believers.  They embrace creative
forms of worship.

Contemplatives (are marked by an emotional attachment and
surrender to God)  They want to spend time in God’s presence,
loving him, adoring him, and listening to him.  They like to
journal and share their emotions and feelings in writing.

I’m not sure which of those temperaments best describe you and
those in your family, but it’s important to remember that we
are all created in a unique way by God.  That uniqueness is
also obvious in the ways that we worship him.

As we worship Jesus together lets embrace that uniqueness and
develop understanding with each other.  Our purpose is always
the same (to worship Christ) but our methods may be different
depending on how He created you.

Make it personal:  Many of these ways to worship are done
throughout the week.  As you go through your week this week
find ways to worship God as you care for others or take a
hike.  God is all around us and He loves it when we worship
Him in whatever way that may be.

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




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