Midweek Reflections

An Event For Everyone

 For this week’s reflection we have the Christmas story as paraphrased from the Message Bible…

“An Event For Everyone” 
Luke 2:1-20 (The Message)

The Birth of Jesus

2 1-5 About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone

8-12 There were shepherds camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:  Glory to God in the heavenly heights,  Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the shepherds were impressed.

19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The shepherds returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Make It Personal:  Be sure to share and celebrate this scripture this Saturday as you celebrate Christmas.  Make the reason for the season come alive in some creative or meaningful way as you gather with family and friends.

Merry Christmas Everyone,  Glen Rhodes

The Power Of Christmas Music

Read: Psalm 150:1-5

Why do you enjoy the Christmas season?  Sometimes we think about the hustle and bustle of Christmas and we don’t stop to appreciate the things we really enjoy about this time of the year.  The music of Christmas is something that is powerful.  It has always blessed, inspired, and brought forth memories of the past for me as well as inspiration for the current season..  From the favorite carols to the traditional classics the sounds, the music, and the words of the Christmas season are different than any other time of the year.

In a recent article by Jen Wilkin in Christianity Today magazine I was struck by a question she asked.  She wrote, “Does our sacred music merely move us in the moment or form us for a lifetime of faithfulness?”  Jen was writing about hymns and worship songs in general but this same question can be asked about the music of Christmas.  Does it help to form our faith in Jesus and the Christmas story or is it just nice music to set a mood or moment?

This is an encouragement for us to think about the words of these Christmas songs, carols, and hymns that we sing in the month of December.  Many of them we can sing by heart and memory because we have heard them for so long, but what if we thought deeper about what they are saying or proclaiming in our world and in our lives.  Think about that this year when you sing “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” or “O, Come All Ye Faithful.”  

Make It Personal:  Think about these things when you sing the songs of Christmas this year.  What are you singing?   What does it mean?  How does it form your faith and testimony of Christmas?  How can they help you to share the good news of Jesus?   

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes  

GPS & Star Gazing

Read: Matthew 2:1-12

On our recent trip to Texas for Thanksgiving we had the Google Maps app up on our phones for almost the entire trip.  Even if you know where you are going it is nice to see the actual time you will be arriving at the bottom.  Another feature is the voice that tells you when to turn, when you need to turn around, and when you have arrived at your destination, I usually choose to keep that muted.  Thank goodness the voice doesn’t tell you when to stop for gas, when you need to eat, or when to use the restroom.  That just might be too much information and an invasion of privacy, but that day may be coming soon.

A common phrase we hear from this GPS voice is “recalculating” or red lines showing up all over the screen when you take a different route than the one they think is best for you.  It’s nice of them to want to keep you on track but sometimes I think my way is a better option than the two or three others they are giving me on the phone.  Sometimes I regret going my own way though, if I would have followed the plan things would have turned out better.

This whole GPS thing reminded me about the Magi (The Wise Men) that came to see Jesus in Bethlehem after his birth (Matthew 2:1-12).  God gave them a star in the sky to guide them to the Savior of the world.  They followed that guiding light and ended up at Jesus’ side.  In verses 10 and 11 of Matthew 2 it says, “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Because the wise Magi from the east followed the star (God’s directions) they found the Savior that God had sent to the world in Jesus.

The lesson for me was this:  It’s okay to mute the voice on my GPS unit, but I need to make sure I am not doing the same to God.  The Lord wants to give us direction and guidance in our lives and we need to listen and follow that direction at all times.  Those Magi in the Bible have come to be known as wise men.  We would be wise as well if we allow God to lead us to our Savior Jesus Christ.  “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Make It Personal:  Whose version of Christmas are you following this year.  Is it the world’s consumeristic focus, is it all about the decorations, is it rushed, busy, and stressed out? Or is it calm, hopefully, peaceful, joyful, and filled with love?  That is the Christmas season that Jesus wants us to celebrate and live.  We are trying to focus on those things each Sunday during Advent but please make sure they are a part of your plan and Christmas destination.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes  

God’s Glory At Christmas

Read: 1 Corinthians 10:23-33

In our consumeristic and confused world it is sometimes difficult to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive in our hearts. But for Christians this is vital! We can continuously try to point out to the world that if Jesus Christ were not born in Bethlehem there would be no December 25th celebrations. But more importantly we should be sure to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas in our families and in our own hearts.

Christmas is not about us. Christmas is not about the economy. Christmas is not about who has the best decor. Christmas is not about ________ (you add your own here). Christmas is about God coming to earth to save the world through his son Jesus Christ and showing us how to live for God’s glory instead of our own. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 Paul reminds us that we are to do all that we do in this life for the glory of God.

We can’t expect the entire world to celebrate the heart of Christmas in the same way as those who believe in God and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. But we can pray that somehow the true heart of Christmas might help them to understand what God has done for them.  The greatest gift the world has ever received came at Christmas.  Now if only the world would receive that gift and make Jesus their Lord and Savior.

 Make It Personal: We cannot change minds and hearts, only Jesus can do that. But we can highlight God’s glory during this month of December in all that we say and do concerning the Christmas season.  May our lives and our testimony of Christmas be focused on Jesus this year and every year!

Have a wonderful December,  Glen Rhodes 

How To Avoid Temptation

Read: Hebrews 2:5-18

Have you ever struggled with temptation?  Have you ever struggled with trying to break a bad habit that you know is unhealthy?  Portia Nelson has written a very short and interesting piece entitled “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters.”  It reads like this;

Chapter 1 – I walk down the street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I fall in.  I am lost… I am helpless.  It isn’t my fault.  It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2 – I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I pretend I don’t see it.  I fall in again.  I can’t believe I am in the same place, but it isn’t my fault.  It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter 3 – I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I see it is there.  I still fall in… it’s a habit.  My eyes are open.  I know where I am.  It is my fault.  I get out immediately.
Chapter 4 – I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I walk around it.  Chapter 5 – I walk down another street.

My guess is that many of us can relate with this autobiography.  There are times that we have been down that same street.  Times that we have failed to admit our fault, and times that we have made the choice to not avoid that street in the first place.  But as the old adage goes, we can learn from our mistakes.  Chapter 4 and 5 are a great example of that.  As followers of Jesus we can also be forgiven of our mistakes by the grace of Christ.

Make It Personal:  I’m not sure what street you have been down in your life or what street you struggle with, but I do know this:  Jesus Christ is the way out!  If you admit your mistake, your sin, or your giving into temptation, Jesus is there ready to forgive you.  Not only will Jesus forgive you and help you out of the deep hole, He can also help you resist that street, that habit, that temptation, in the future.  He knows what you’re going through.  In Hebrews 2:18 it says, “He himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  Call out to Jesus.  Help is on the way!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving,  Glen Rhodes  

Purpose Beyond Profit

Read: Colossians 1:15-23

The title for my reflection this week was taken from an article in Time magazine written by Marc Benioff.  Marc was writing about Colin Powell who recently passed away.  The impact that Mr. Powell left on many people was profound and encouraging on many different fronts.  He was a Christian and often empowered people to live for God and serve others instead of self.  He encouraged business leaders to put purpose and people ahead of success and profit.

At a business summit in Philadelphia some years back Colin Powell said, “This is a time for each every one of us to look into our own heart, to look into our own community, find someone who is in need, find someone who is wanting, find someone who is looking up to us, and for each and every one of us to reach down, to reach back, to reach across, to lift up a fellow American and put him on the road to success in this wonderful country of ours.”  Benioff also mentioned that at that summit Powell told the people that business could do more than simply make money.  That they could be a force for good and a platform for change.

As Christians and as followers of Jesus we are encouraged to fulfill our purpose in life as believers.  In Colossians 1 Paul is proclaiming the supremacy of Christ and is imploring us to give and serve with that purpose in mind instead of our own personal needs or gain.  Our purpose in life is not self-focused but is to be God-focused.  This in turn means that we are also focused on others and how we can make a difference in this world for Christ.  In verse 18 Paul writes, “He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.” 

Make It Personal:  Colin Powell and many others are great examples of what it means to have a servants heart.  A servants heart is where we find purpose in this life.  Purpose will always make you feel better in life than any profit or material things you can gain in this world.  Let’s go out into the world and fulfill the purpose that God has placed on our lives.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes  

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