Midweek Reflections

Heavenly Hope

Read: Psalm 42

What voices are you listening to?  So often people tend to listen to the voice in their head that brings them down, discourages them, or paints a distorted view of the world.  That voice is the enemy of God trying to distract us from the hope of God.  Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones commented on this one time when referring to Psalm 42 and he wrote….

“The first thing we have to learn is what the Psalmist learned, we must learn to take ourselves to hand.  This man was not content to just lie down and commiserate himself.  He does something about it, he takes himself in hand…He talks to himself….”   Lloyd-Jones goes on to say, “I say that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ‘ourselves’ to talk to us!  Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”

In Psalm 42 the Psalmist is having one of those moments Lloyd-Jones is referring to.  He seems disturbed, downcast, and hopeless because he is listening to himself.  He even hears people asking “Where is your God?”  He then realizes his error and he begins to speak words of hope from heaven into his life and into his situation.  The Psalmist says, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  Let’s join him this week and speak words of heavenly hope into our downcast days.

Make It Personal:  If you find yourself listening to negative voices in your mind this week call them out.  Instead of listening to those choose to speak words of heavenly hope with your own voice.  Drown out the darkness with light of Christ and the hope of God. Christian or Worship music can often help us to keep those words in our ears as well.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes  


One In Christ

Read: Acts 4:32-35

“There was not a needy person among them.”  Acts 4:34

There are needs everywhere in our world! Often our definition of the word “need” gets caught up in our selfish desires instead of the real needs that are around us. When we say we “need” a new cell phone it often means that we “want” a new cell phone.  For many in our world however the needs are very real.  Some do not have enough to eat, others do not have clean water, and others do not have a place to sleep at night. So, how as followers of Jesus Christ are we responding to the example in Acts 4 of sharing our love, compassion, and resources with others?

It may be money to build a community water well in Africa, it may be a child sponsored through Compassion International, or it may be a neighbor who is in need across the street.  It could even be the person who sits next to us on Sunday morning in church.  Acts 4:32 says, “Everything they owned was held in common.”  This testifies that they were truly “One” together in their life in Christ and looked after each other because of the example of  Jesus.

It’s often hard to live in a “me-first” world and yet keep this wonderful concept of serving others in perspective.  The early Christians had seen the compassion, love, and concern that Jesus had for the needy people around him.  They knew that this was an integral part of their faith in Christ and their testimony for him.  Perhaps the next time we label something a “need” we should read this passage and then ask ourselves if it is really a need or just a want.  We should also think about how our wants could be given up to meet someone else’s needs.  What a wonderful statement to hear… “there was not a needy person among them.”  We may not get to the point that every person in the world will have their needs met but we can definitely do our part in trying.

Make It Personal: Lord Jesus, help me/us to be thankful for the ways you have blessed me/us. Help me/us Lord, to use those blessings to help those who truly are in need!

Be a blessing this week,  Glen Rhodes  

The Little (BIG) Things

Read: Colossians 3:12-14

Some years ago when the space shuttle Discovery was getting ready to head into space the mission had to be aborted and grounded.  It wasn’t technical difficulties or lack of government funding, but woodpeckers that caused the delay.  Yellow-shafted flicker woodpeckers found the insulating foam on the shuttle’s external fuel tank irresistible material for pecking. The foam was critical to the shuttle’s performance.  Without it, ice would form on the tank when it was filled with super cold fuel, ice that could then break free during liftoff and damage the giant spacecraft.  The shuttle was grounded until the damage was repaired.

Marriages and other relationships are frequently damaged not only by big things like infidelity , abuse, or abandonment; but by little things as well like criticism, lack of respect, and taking each other for granted.  Those things can peck away at the relationship and keep us from loving, supporting, and caring for each other in a way that is healthy and encouraged in the Bible.  In Colossians 3:12-14 it says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

In the Bible, husbands, wives, and children are all encouraged to love, submit, obey, and serve each other in ways that are not domineering or self-serving.  Looking out for the best of the other person is always a way to foster the love of Jesus in our families instead of picking and pecking away at all of the little things that really don’t matter in the big picture.  To produce a healthy Christ-like environment in our families, marriages, and other relationships we would do well to stop and think about how we are relating to each other.  Is it uplifting and encouraging or is it always deflating and discouraging?  Our words and our attitudes can be very huge things sometimes even though we treat them as the little things.

Make It Personal: Think about ways that you have been affecting your family or marriage with words and attitudes that are not helpful.  Try to catch yourself in the midst of those and change them for the better.  In the end you will be amazed at how it changes the atmosphere of your home and your relationships.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes 

An Attractive Life

Read: Matthew 5:3-10

In a recent devotional in Our Daily Bread, David H. Roper shared some interesting thoughts from Matthew 5 and the beatitudes on what it looks like to be an authentic Christian.  He writes….

“I applied for a position in a Christian organization years ago and was presented with a list of legalistic rules having to do with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and certain forms of entertainment. “We expect Christian behavior from our employees” was the explanation. I could agree with this list because I, for reasons mostly unrelated to my faith, didn’t do those things. But my argumentative side thought, Why don’t they have a list about not being arrogant, insensitive, harsh, spiritually indifferent, and critical? None of these were addressed.

Following Jesus can’t be defined by a list of rules. It’s a subtle quality of life that’s difficult to quantify but can best be described as “beautiful.”  The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–10 sum up that beauty: Those who are indwelt by and dependent on the Spirit of Jesus are humble and self-effacing. 

They’re deeply touched by the suffering of others. They’re gentle and kind. They long for goodness in themselves and in others. They’re merciful to those who struggle and fail. They’re single-minded in their love for Jesus. They’re peaceful and leave behind a legacy of peace. They’re kind to those who misuse them, returning good for evil. And they’re blessed, a word that means “happy” in the deepest sense.  This kind of life attracts the attention of others and belongs to those who come to Jesus and ask Him for it.”  David’s thoughts are good things to consider when we think about what is right and wrong in our world.  Let’s look like Jesus authentically through and through!

Make It Personal: The kind of life described in the beatitudes and in the devotional above attracts the attention of others and belongs to those who come to Jesus and ask Him for it.  Which attributes from Matthew 5 do you especially need in your life?  How can you grow in this?

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes  

Oak Trees & Squash

Read: Galatians 5:13-26

Before James Garfield became President of the United States, he was principal of Hiram College in Ohio.  A father once asked him if a particular course of study could be simplified so that his son could go through by a shorter route.  “Certainly,” replied Garfield.  “But it all depends upon what you want to make of your boy.  When God wants to make an oak tree, he takes a hundred years.  When he wants to make a squash, he requires only two summers.”

In Galatians 5 one of the fruits of the Spirit is patience and forbearance.  As Garfield mentioned to the father in the story above, patience often produces a result that we rarely get when we try to force our own desires in front of the Lord’s desire.   There is a reason our parents always told us that patience is a virtue.  We live in a world that has nearly forgotten what patience is all about.  With immediate access to almost anything via our smartphones we shouldn’t lose our ability to “wait upon the Lord” in some things that truly need to be waited upon.  

This past year has reminded me again that the Lord will lead us in every area of life.  We just have to be willing to be led and sometimes wait on that leading or direction to come in God’s perfect timing.  May all of us learn to practice this virtuous fruit of patience in our lives.  If we wait we may just be amazed at what the Lord had seen coming all along.  Remember the example of the Oak Tree and the Squash.

Make It Personal: What is it in your life right now that requires patience?  Remember what Isaiah 40:31 says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes 

Receive Him Back In Love

Read: Philemon

We have recently been hearing the Bible stories of Joseph from John Walsh’s Bible Telling Ministry during our Sunday morning messages.  For the reflection this week I share his short story on the book of Philemon in the New Testament.  It also is a good lead in to what we will hear in the story of Joseph this coming Sunday.  Here is the story.

Onesimus was a slave who ran away from his master Philemon. He went to Rome and eventually met Paul who led him to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Onesimus stayed with the apostle and helped him in the ministry. Eventually they knew it was time for the “runaway slave” to return to his master. Paul was a personal friend with Philemon, so he wrote a letter to help the two men reconcile their relationship. He said… 

Philemon—my dear friend—greetings to you, your family, and the church that meets in your home. I pray for you on a regular basis. I thank God for the love you have for the Lord Jesus Christ and for fellow believers. Those who meet you are encouraged in their faith.

Dear brother, you know me. I don’t normally hesitate in telling you what is right and wrong. I’m usually quick in reminding you of your duties in Christ. But I’m not going to do that this time. Instead, I am going to beg.

Picture this in your mind. I’m an old man who is in prison for the cause of Jesus Christ. In my weakness, God sent me a helper, Onesimus—a man who caused you pain and grief. But God sent him to me and I was able to introduce him to Jesus. He yielded his life to Christ and then became invaluable as a helper to me. In a way, it was like you sent him here to help me because you couldn’t come yourself. I don’t know how I can carry on without him; but he and I both know he should go back to you. He was helping me in your stead, but we didn’t have your permission.

Listen, he was a worthless slave when he ran away from you. Now he’s coming back as a valuable brother in Christ, a co-worker in the ministry and a dear friend of mine. Receive him back in love.

Oh, concerning those things he stole from you —put those on my account. Here, I will pick up the quill and write this in my own handwriting. “I, Paul, will repay it.” I won’t remind you of the fact that you actually owe me your very life.  Please receive him as if you were receiving me. You’ll bring joy to my life when I hear how you’ve accepted Onesimus back into your life and home.  But what am I talking about? I know you’ll do this and even more.  By the way, prepare your guest room for me. I know you’ve been praying that I’d be set free and come back to visit you. I think the Lord is going to answer your prayers.  Greet all my good friends who are there. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  – Paul.

Make It Personal:  Who do you need to receive back in love?  Many things happen to us that can offend, make us mad, and dishonor us.  How we respond is very important in how we move on, heal, and restore relationships.  The story of Joseph and Onesimus encourages us to receive those people back in love instead of moving ahead in vengeance and hatred.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

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