Midweek Reflections

“Don’t give up Hope!”

This weeks meditation: “Don’t give up Hope!”
Read: Philippians 3:12-21

As we begin a new year some of us are ready to leave 2010 behind.  When I was visiting my sister recently she was sharing with me about a friend of hers who has had all kinds of tragedy and dissapointment happen to her and her family in this past year.  We summized that she is probably ready for a new year and the hope of a better year that lies ahead.

All of us will go through difficult times in our lives.  Sometimes it is a difficult year, sometimes a difficult week, and at a times just a difficult day.  It’s at those times that encouragement and promises like Philippians 3:13 can give us hope.  It says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

The Christian group Third Day has a new album out that has a song entitled “Don’t give up hope!”  The lyrics say, “Don’t give up faith, Don’t give up hope, There’s always something better waiting around the corner.  Don’t give up now please, don’t let go, what can feel like the ending could just be the beginning.  Don’t give up hope.”

In Lamentations 3:22-23 the Bible shares this wonderful promise.  “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”  If God’s compassion is new every morning then we can start each day as a new beginning with the hope of Christ.  What wonderful news, we don’t have to wait on a new year to get here!

Martin Luther once said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”  I hope you can find that hope of Jesus in this new year and I hope that it gives you encouragement for each and every day in the 365 days ahead.  Well, Okay, it’s now down to 361.

Make it personal:  Try making it a habit this year to remind yourself about the promise of Lamentations 3.  No matter what happens in your day, night, or week, remember that God’s mercy is there for you and ready to prepare you for what lies around the next corner.  Allow that to bring you hope!

Blessings in 2011,
Glen Rhodes
Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church

“Christmas Vacation”

This weeks Meditation:  “Christmas Vacation”
Read: Luke 2:1-20

Christmas humor to start with…. It was Christmas and the judge was in a merry mood as he asked the prisoner, “What are you charged with?”
“Doing my Christmas shopping early,” replied the defendant.
“That’s no offense,” said the judge. “How early were you doing this shopping?”  “Before the store opened.”

I doubt that prisoner is going to get much of a vacation.  When most people read the title of this meditation they most likely thought of Chevy Chase and the movie by that same title.  But vacations have long been associated with the Christmas season.  In fact, the story itself in Luke 2 includes a vacation.  Sort of.

We often see pictures of Mary and Joseph tracking through the Judean plains on their way to Bethlehem.  This trip must have been far from a vacation.  Sometimes we see the picture of Mary riding on a donkey even though we have no proof of that for sure.  It does however present an interesting question.  “Why does Jesus have to be born in Bethlehem when he is going to grow up in Mary’s hometown of Nazareth anyway?”

The question will remain unanswered except for the fact that it was prophesied this way.  In Micah 5:2 it says, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Luke 2 says this is where Joseph had to go register for the census so perhaps he owned some property in Bethlehem.  The Roman custom required everyone to register in each place they owned some property.  But whatever the case, the fact is God knew all along.  He knew that Mary would give birth while they were on this first Christmas vacation.

As you travel this week for Christmas, whether it be near or far, think about this first trip that started Christmas. Imagine what Mary and Joseph were feeling.  Imagine what challenges they must have had to overcome.  Then give thanks that God’s prophetic words were fulfilled that night in Bethlehem.  The Savior is born!  Your Savior is born!  His name is Jesus Christ the Lord!

Make it personal:  As you look at the manger scenes this week, try to put yourself in the shoes of Joseph and Mary.  Pray that God will give you that kind of committment to follow his call on your life and be obedient to his ways.  Life is not always easy, but neither was this trip to Bethlehem.

Have a Merry Christmas,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling
Arthur Mennonite Church


This weeks Meditation:  “ReGifting”
Read:  1 Peter 4:8-11

Three-year-old Elizabeth was helping her mother Melinda wrap a present for her father.  While wrapping, Melinda told Elizabeth about keeping the present a secret so it would be a surprise. After the present was wrapped, Elizabeth proudly put it under the tree.  When her father asked her if he could shake it and guess what’s inside, she said, “No, T-shirts don’t rattle.”  Oops!

At this time each year we lament or hear people lamenting over the consumerism of Christmas.  It is a problem when the “things” become the focus instead of the true reason we celebrate Christmas.  But all of us know that there is also a real enjoyment to giving gifts and finding the perfect surprise for a friend or loved one.

The term “Re-gifting” refers to when someone receives a gift they do not want and sets it aside in order to give it to someone else at a later time.  But I would like us to think of a different use for that term this Christmas.  What if we gave a gift to someone in need out of the abundance that we have been blessed with?  In this 1 Peter passage verse 10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

The truth is, while we consider which of the latest electronic gadgets we need (want) for Christmas (I use that example because that is where I find my weakness), many in our world are wondering where their next meal will come from.

Each year we recieve many of these giving options in the mail.  What if we would wrap a gift to put under our tree that signifies a significant gift that we gave in order to help those who have so little.  Or maybe you could put a Christmas card on your tree to be opened by your family on Christmas morning that shares about a need that your family helped to meet this Christmas.

This would be one way to help us keep our gift giving in proper perspective.  Actually, the concept of re-gifting fits here.  We take the plenty that God has blessed us with and re-gift it to someone in need.  Perhaps this will help us and our families to refocus on what needs and wants really are.  I will end with a quote from Bing Crosby that sums this up very well.

“Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it “white.”
– Bing Crosby

Make it personal:  Don’t feel guilty about giving or receiving gifts this Christmas but try to keep things in proper perspective.  Maybe this is the Christmas for your family to start a new tradition.  A tradition that will help you and your children to focus on the many needs in our world and the many blessings in our lives.  Be grateful, be generous!  Be a “faithful steward of God’s grace in its various forms.”  And Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season!

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


This weeks meditation:  “Work”
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Colossians 3:23-24

How do you view your work?  Your Job?  For many people a job is seen primarily as a way to make income and pay the bills, etc..  But Paul claims it is much more than that in these verses.  He says that we do not work for companies or bosses, we work for the Lord.  This can be a transformational way to think about your work and the purpose that God has called you to in life.

Del Tackett (the leader of The Truth Project through Focus on the Family) has a blog in which he shares many wonderful insights on Biblican truth and faith.  This week a member of our church emailed me his thoughts about this subject of work.  In his blog he shared a conversation he had with a friends of his.

His friend (David Simpich) asked, “If I were a Christian baker, would I have to put a cross on every cupcake to make my work pleasing to God?” Del said, “He then realized that it was what he put “into” the cupcakes that made them pleasing to God, not what he stuck on the top. It was “how” he did his work and “why” he did his work that fulfilled his purpose before his Creator.”

I truly believe that God wants us to do the work he has placed us to do and “work at it with all our heart.”  We don’t have to make our work spiritual, it is spiritual just in the fact that it is what God has given you to do.  Part of our testimony can be in the attitude and the nature in which we work.

I realize there are many people in our country who are out of work right now.  Some may be saying, “I just want to have a job,” or “I need a job.”  Maybe this is a season of re-evaluating where God wants to use you.  Maybe the next work opportunity will be a place that he is especially preparing for you.  I hope it comes soon, but I hope all of us will remember who it is we are serving.

It is not the god of consumerism, materialism, or worldly values, it is the God who created us and has called us to serve Him in the many different places of the world His servants work.  I love the way Del Tackett ended his blog.  He wrote….

“God has made each of us for a particular and unique purpose. He has gifted us with His talents. And whatever His calling is, whether it is to make shoes, to farm, to nurse, or to preach, we are to do it to His glory, with joy and excellence and righteousness. This is pleasing to God. You don’t have to somehow put a cross “sticker’ on your potatoes to make your farming acceptable.  He is pleased with the child who carries out the task for which he has been made.”

Make it personal:  Whether you work at home, at a workplace, or anywhere else, I hope you will take Paul’s words to heart.  It is sometimes easy to dislike a particular job, but perhaps it transforms our minds to think of it as a way to serve God.  Remember, you are working for the Lord, and if you have that attitude you will, “receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.”

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

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