Midweek Reflections

“The Perfect Temp!”

This Weeks Meditation:  “The Perfect Temp!”
Read: Revelation 3:14-22

With the excessive heat and humidity this week many people have been talking about the weather.  This is nothing new except that so often we are complaining about it being either too hot or too cold.  I wonder what the people in San Diego complain about, the average yearly temp. there is a lukewarm 71 degrees.

However, lukewarm is not always the best.  In the Bible that word is used only one time and it is not in a positive way at all.  Revelation 3:16 is a part of a letter to the church in Laodicea and it says, “So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot or cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”  Perhaps lukewarm is not all it seems?

What this letter is really talking about is when believers start to go through the motions and take their faith for granted.  When life is easy we too often forget the one in Christ who is our provider, deliverer, and Savior.  When life get’s tough he is often the first place we turn.

That is good, Jesus wants us to turn to him during those difficult times but he also wants us to stay in tune with him when we are having the perfect day and things are going great.  We dare not become complacent as it appears the church in Laodicea had fallen into.

Verses 21-22 in the Message Bible are paraphrased to say, “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!  Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”

let’s not just knock at the door when then temp. is turned up or down in our life, let’s be a consistent visitor even when life is 70 degrees and sunny.  Stay on fire for Jesus, alive in His Word, and don’t let your faith become lukewarm.

Make it personal:  Maybe we should try talking about the faithfulness of God to others as much as we talk to them about the weather.  Hmmm…. who knows where that type of conversation may lead?

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

“God’s Changelessness”

This Weeks Meditation: “God’s Changelessness”
Read: Psalm 102

We live in an ever-changing world!  As soon as you think you understand someone, they do something to make you wonder.  As soon as you think your work situation couldn’t be better, you walk in to find out that you have been laid off.  As soon as you have the latest smartphone, the next version comes out the following week.

Most of us do not handle change to well.  Even if we like things to be random and unstructured we still want to have an idea of what lies around the next corner.  Surprises are usually only welcomed when they are wrapped in fancy paper and have bows on the top.

That’s what makes being a Christian a wonderful thing!  God is unchanging!  His love, faithfulness, protection, presence, and strength are always there for us and always the same.  In Psalm 102 the writer laments about many of those things that change and are unreliable.  But in the end he writes, “But you remain the same.”

A.W. Tozer once said, “God never changes moods or cools off in His affections or loses enthusiasm.  His attitude toward sin is now the same as it was when he drove out the sinful man for the eastward garden, and His attitude toward the sinner the same when he stretched forth His hands and cried, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Things change, situations change, people change, but God will not change in his faithfulness to see you through.  God sent his Son Jesus to save us from sin, to provide salvation, and to bring us the rest that the verse above describes.  Run to him with whatever you are faced with this week and you will find that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Make it personal:  Try to name some things in your life that have changed over the past year, month, or week.  After doing that start to name the ways that God has not changed in his faithfulness toward you.  God loves you and will see you through whatever wave of change you are currently riding on.

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

“We are the Church”

This Weeks Meditation:  “We are the Church!”
Read: 2 Corinthians 5:16-20

This passage from 2 Corinthians is the theme passage for this weeks Mennonite USA convention in Pittsburgh.  Today (Wednesday) was designated as “We are the Church day” here at the convention as a way to celebrate the broad and diverse face of the church in our country and world.

When we say “we” it represents people from many countries and cultures around the world.  Even in our country the cultures that we come from are very diverse and full of fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit.  This means that reconciliation and christian community must be who we are as Christ’s ambassadors.

This passage reminds us that first and foremost we must be reconciled to God.  Then we must live out the ministry of reconciliation in our daily lives.  This gives evidence to the new creation we are in Jesus Christ.

So often we allow our own preferences or our cultural traditions to dictate what we think the church should be or look like.  But God does not see us in that way.  Verse 17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation.”  That means that “we” as the “church” should come together as a whole to celebrate this relationship, this reconciliation, and this family that we are a part of.

It is hard to be at a convention like this and not be reminded of the diverse people we are.  Even those who may look similar are still often different in many ways.  But because we are the church we should celebrate what God is doing instead of being critical of each other.  When Jesus reconciled us he did so with unconditional love.  May that same type of love be the testimony of the Christian church today!

Make it personal:  Find ways to connect with the MCUSA conference this week and experience a taste of this reconciliation theme that is permeating this week.  You can go to the AMC website to find various ways to connect with this weeks events.  www.arthurmennonite.org

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

“Most Important Words”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Most Important Words”
Read: Philippians 1:1-11

Encouragement and Humility are two of the greatest virtues in life.  Not only do they lift other people up but they lift our spirits as well.  In the book of Philippians Paul shares these virtues in many ways.  If you have time try to read the whole book of Philippians to appreciate the full scope of joy, encouragement, and thanksgiving that Paul writes about.

I ran across an email this week that said:
The six most important words are…
“I admit that I was wrong!”
The five most important words are…
“You did a great job.”
The four most important words are…
“What do you think?”
The three most important words are…
“May I help?”
The two most important words are…
“Thank You!”
The most important word is…
The least important word is…

In verse 6 Paul says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  So often we get caught up in the needs that we have as individuals and forget about the needs of those whom God places in our path each day.

Paul encourages us here that we are called to bring about good things in life and speak positive words of encouragement to each other.  That “good work” is only possible when we place ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Our positive and encouraging words to each other not only flow out of our relationship with Jesus but they also can lead others to him.

Paul says, “The fruit of righteousness” comes through Jesus Christ.  Let’s remember those important words this week and put the focus on others instead of ourselves.  After all, that is what Jesus always did.

Make it personal:  Take your most difficult relationship this week and use this text and these most important words to approach it in a different way.  By blessing others in Christ we can often turn the bad into good.

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

“Freeing Forgiveness”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Freeing Forgiveness”
Read: Colossians 3:1-17

One of the hardest things to do in life is to forgive someone when they have wronged you.  If you have lived very long in this world you undoubtedly have experienced this.  But one of Christ’s instructions for us in His Word is that we are to forgive others in the same unconditional way that he has forgiven us for our sins.

It may be hard, but it is so important to freeing ourselves to live the rest of our life in peace and contentment.  I am always reminded of Stormie Omartian’s quote, “Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free.”  We can choose to live in the bondage of unforgiveness or we can choose to live in the freedom that forgiving others can bring to us.

In verse 13 of this Colossians 3 passage Paul says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  We truly rob our own freedom and peace when he hold on to grudges for too long.  Forgiving someone may not repair a friendship right away or restore things to like they used to be but it sure frees the one who choses to forgive.

Perhaps you can relate to this old illustration about the farmer and his mule: One day a visitor leaned on the old fence around a farm while he watched an old farmer plowing with a mule. After a while, the visitor said, “I don’t like to tell you how to run your business, but you could save yourself a lot of work by saying, ’Gee’ and ’Haw’ to that mule instead of just tugging on those lines.” The old farmer pulled a big handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his face. Then he said, “Reckon you’re right, but this animal kicked me five years ago and I haven’t spoke to him since.”

When we have been kicked by someone it never feels good!  But after reading this passage of scripture we are reminded that kicking back or holding a grudge for the rest of our life is not what Jesus encouraged by his example or how Paul proclaims for us to live in these verses.  Remember what Stormie says, “Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free.”

Make it personal:  What baggage have you been carrying around in your life?  It’s time to lay it down at the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to help you truly forgive and move on with your life.  He has great things ahead for you!

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

“The Blame Game”

This Week’s Meditation: “The Blame Game”
Read: Romans 12

This week I read this funny email pun. it said…
“Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City: The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, “That was quite a bump and I know what ya’ll are thinking. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault, it wasn’t the pilot’s fault, it wasn’t the flight attendants’ fault, it was the asphalt!”

It made me laugh but it also made me think about how easy it is to cast blame on others instead of being accountable and responsible for our own shortcomings. The world likes to play the blame game and often shirk responsibility if it means that pain, hardship, or even punishment might come into our lives.

Romans 12 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It also goes on to share many helpful insights into grace, mercy, responsibility, and love for others. Verse 3 says, “Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought.” In other words, be quick to acknowledge when you mess up.

In a couple recent online articles Ron Edmondson shared 5 wrong ways to respond to criticism and five healthy ways to respond to criticism. I found these very helpful in thinking about the subject of grace, repentance, and forgiveness.

Ron says that 5 wrongs ways to respond to criticism are:
1. Finding fault with the critic, instead of admitting there might be validity to the criticism.
2. Blaming others, and not being willing to accept responsibility.
3. Throwing back criticism and finding fault in others.
4. Ignoring an opportunity to learn.
5. Appeasing. Trying to satisfy all the critics.

He then shares 5 healthy ways to respond:
1. Consider the source before reacting or responding.
2. Listen to everyone. Don’t dismiss someone because you may not like them or agree with them totally.
3. Analyze for validity. Is the criticism true?
4. Look for common themes. Is this a trend I am hearing?
5. Give an answer. Criticism is often a question. Respond in love even if you don’t have an answer.

If you would like to read more about what Ron Edmundson has to say you can read both of these articles if you click here.

As Christians we have no reason to play this game along with the world. Why? Because we have the forgiveness of Jesus waiting on us when we mess up. Instead of blaming others or trying to get out of embrassing ourselves or not being accountable, just take it to Jesus. Be responsible for your mistake (repent) but know that Jesus has paid the ultimate price to forgive you for it!

Make it personal: Have you been criticized this week? Have you messed up this week? Read Romans 12 and consider how Jesus wants you to respond. Once we learn that blaming others only prolongs our pain and heartache we will be able to move on in the hope and grace that is ours through Jesus Christ.

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

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