Midweek Reflections

Grace Then Truth

Read: John 1:9-18

I have always admired the challenging job that doctors and nurses have on the medical side of things (especially the past year or two with covid), but I also realize the difficult task they have of sharing news with people and families that they sometimes don’t want to hear.  In a devotional Helen Paynter reminded me of this balance of sharing the truth while also extending kindness and comfort to the individual and family.  In her devotional she wrote about how some doctors will “blurt out the diagnoses or prognosis without any words of preparation or comfort.”  As a former doctor herself she would often remind her fellow doctors and nurses about the need to be clear and truthful but also very kind in how they share the news with their patients.  

As I was thinking about the importance of this for doctors and nurses it occurred to me that the same advice holds true for all of us.  We need to be honest and speak truth, but we also need to do it with kindness and grace.  Too often in our world people blurt out their opinions without considering the impact it may have on other people.  We must remember that we are all created in the image of God and must live in this world together.  In John 1:14 the Bible says, “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  There it is.  Jesus came to us in grace and truth.  I don’t think it is a mistake that the apostle John put grace first.  When we approach someone with grace it changes how we share the truth.

The truth of God needs to be shared in a world that is lost!  But for the world to even have the desire or opportunity to receive it in the right way it must be presented with grace, peace, and love.  Helen shared this prayer at the end of her devotional and may it be our prayer as well…. “Lord, please fill me with such love for your world that I have the courage to speak truth and the grace to do it with gentleness and humility.”

Make It Personal:  The next time you feel the need to share the truth with someone consider your attitude, approach, and demeanor.  Whether in person, online, or in a text, we need to think about how we approach these situations.  We should always consider grace and then share the truth.  We also need to make prayer an important part of these conversations.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes  

Where There Is Darkness, Light

Read: Matthew 5:13-16

This past week many people remembered the life of St. Francis of Assisi who died on October 3, 1226.  In most circles St. Francis of Assisi is well known for a prayer that he may never have written.  The Prayer of Saint Francis has become one of the most beloved prayers of Christianity and yet it is not found in any of his shared writings today.  He definitely lived a life focused around the teachings of Jesus and encouraged others to live this way as well, so perhaps he lived out the words of this prayer even if he never wrote them down.  Or, perhaps he did write them down?  We really don’t know for sure.

The prayer is a wonderful encouragement of how we are to live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.  Many of the phrases can be taken from the teachings of Jesus in the gospels and can definitely bring light, grace, peace, and joy to our world.  May these words be an encouragement for all of us this week and may we be used as instruments of God’s peace.

Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith;  Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light;  And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;  To be understood as to understand;  To be loved as to love;  For it is in giving that we receive;  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;  And it is dying that we are born to eternal life. 

Make It Personal:  If you were to write out a prayer what would it say?  How could it encourage you to give thanks, be inspired, and be faithful to the teachings of Jesus?  Perhaps we should all have a prayer that is attributed to our name?

Have a peace-filled week,  Glen Rhodes  

Joy In The House

Read: Psalm 84

The #1 song on Christian Radio this week is Phil Wickham’s new song “House of the Lord.”  If you have not heard this song you need to check it out.  Warning: You won’t be able to sit still.  The song is a celebration of the joy that Jesus can bring into your life, into your house, and into your day.  Much of the song reminds us of Psalm 84 that says, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.”

In a world and time that seems to bring us down we need to find ways to celebrate the joy of the Lord.  We need to find ways to project joy in our homes and be reminded of who we are in Jesus Christ our Savior.  The news may be bleak, the day may be hard, your situation may be difficult, but the joy you have in Jesus can help you to focus on the hope you have in Him.

One part of Phil Wickham’s song is especially encouraging.  He sings, “We were the beggars, now we’re royalty.  We were the prisoners, now we’re running free.  We are forgiven, accepted, redeemed by His grace, let the house of the Lord sing praise!”  The song goes on to say, “There’s joy in the house of the Lord, God is surely in this place, and we won’t be quiet, we shout out Your praise!”  Amen to that.  May there by joy in your house today and everyday because of all that Jesus has done for you.

Make It Personal:  Scripture often refers to us as the temple of the Lord.  If you are a temple of God then His joy and His blessings should be residing in your heart and coming out of your mouth.  Nothing in this world can take this joy away from you, remember that.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes  

We Are Not Worthy!

Read: John 3:14-21

Every once in a while you run across a quote that sums things up so well.  This past week I ran across a quote from John Stott in his book “The Cross of Christ” that really sums up the essence of what God has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ.  In this quote John does not mention the name of Jesus but speaks of what God has done for us despite our sin and our inclinations toward selfish motives and selfish actions.

John writes, “The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man.  Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.  Man claims prerogatives that belong to God alone; God accepts penalties that belong to man alone.”   This is what the gospel of  John is saying in John 3:14-21 when he speaks of all that God has done for us.

A few weeks ago in a sermon I mentioned those times that we tend to bow down to other humans and say “we are not worthy” when they do something that is incredible or awe inspiring.  This quote reminds us that we need to bow down to God and realize that we are not worthy of all that he has done for us despite our own sin and missteps in life.  Nothing compares to the sacrifice that God has made in order to save us and restore his relationship with us.  His love for us is that great and that incredible, and that is why we need to worship Him and give Him thanks for the salvation that he freely provides for us.

Make It Personal: Do you live in constant awareness of how awesome our God truly is?  Do you thank Him and worship Him as often as you should?  We are not worthy of all that God has done for us and for the sacrifice his Son Jesus has made for us on the cross, but we are blessed to be loved in such a great way.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

True Freedom

“True Freedom” 
Read: Romans 6:1-14

There has been a lot of talk recently about freedoms, or lack of them.  From religious freedom, to freedom of expression, to thousands of people fleeing their homeland in search of it.  Freedom is something most everyone values as a great treasure to have.  But in Romans 6 the apostle Paul reminds us of a freedom that is greater and more valuable than any other: freedom from sin’s grasp.

Throughout the history of the world freedoms have come and gone as countries and leaders have come and gone.  Some have upheld the banner of freedom while others have destroyed it.  But despite our situation, country, or leadership there is one freedom that no human person or leader can take away from us.  That freedom is the freedom we (you) have through Jesus Christ.

Sin and disobedience toward God has the power to defeat us and enslave us.  But God sent his only son Jesus to free us from those end results.  

True freedom from our sin comes when we repent of our wrongs to Christ and ask him to forgive us.  His grace then covers us and washes away the sins and mistakes of our past and brings us new life.  This brings us true freedom, even when earthly powers try to take it away from us.  In verse 14 Paul says, “Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

Freedom and justice in this world are definitely important.  Christians should work to encourage citizens and leaders to help promote them.  But as we do that, let’s not forget the one true freedom that rings louder than any.  Freedom in Christ is the message we need to proclaim the loudest.  This is the freedom that saves us, delivers us, and prepares us for our eternal home in heaven.  And “Us” includes anyone you cross paths with this week.

Make It Personal: As you hear talk of freedom (or lack of it) in the news, be sure to remind yourself of the freedom you have in your Savior Jesus Christ.  No one can take that away from you, and it will stand through all of eternity.  Praise the Lord!

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes  

What’s Your Preference?

Read: Colossians 2:1-8

Yesterday AMC church member Cory Kauffman posted a picture of Jiff brand crunchy peanut butter on Facebook and said that he made a huge mistake.  He obviously prefers smooth over crunchy.  I commented that sometimes it takes a mistake in order to see the light.  I obviously prefer crunchy.  Peanut butter is not the only thing that brings out people’s preferences.  Toothpaste, pop, T.V shows, chips, vehicles, movies, sports teams, and many other things tend to bring out our individuality, personality, and tastes.

On the things mentioned above our preferences are not really a big deal.  There is a reason shelves are stocked with so many options.  When it comes to our faith and the way that we view the world, morals, behavior, and salvation in Jesus, it does matter.  In fact, it matters greatly.  It has both earthly and eternal implications.  In Colossians 2 Paul is saying that his preference and our preference should be to encourage, unite, understand, and follow the life, example, and ways of Jesus Christ.

When discussing this passage yesterday in an online pastor’s “zoom” meeting one leader said, “When it comes to life decisions and direction we should always prefer what God prefers.”  That should be our goal but what we need to watch out for is what verse 4 warns us about.  It says, “I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”  In other words, the world will sometimes make things sound better than they really are.  We need to constantly be aware of this and test the world’s preferences to those of Jesus and God’s Word.  Peanut butter preferences are one thing, but others related to faith do have eternal implications.

Make It Personal:  Ok, what is your preference?  Crunchy or Creamy?  My wife and I disagree on this so we have to stock two kinds of peanut butter in our pantry.  We do agree on the quote above though.  When it comes to life decisions and direction you should always prefer what God prefers.  We find that out through reading the Bible, prayer, and leaning on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  I’m not bold enough to proclaim that God is a St. Louis Cardinals fan and prefers crunchy peanut butter like I do, but I do know he loves you and cares about you and the decisions you are making in life.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes 

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