Midweek Reflections

I Can’t Help It!

Read: Mark 10:46

I love it when something negative can be turned into something positive.  I thought about that this week when I heard someone use the phrase “I can’t help it!”  Most of the time that phrase is used when someone is speaking of a habit or a negative thing that they can stop doing.  But what if we used it when we think of positive things like….

  • I can’t help it, I just like living with an attitude of prayer all the time.
  • I can’t help it, I love praising God for his creation and goodness.
  • I can’t help it, I just naturally look for the good in other people.
  • I can’t help it, I just can’t turn down an opportunity to help someone.
  • I can’t help it, I will always put God first in my life over everything else.
  • I can’t help it, I just love to tell others about the salvation found in Jesus Christ.

I think you get the idea.  If you could add a couple more to this list what would you say?  There is so much negative that we are exposed to each day that it often tempts us to think in those same negative ways.  What if we turned the tables?  How about we start thinking about the good things, the blessings, and the goodness of God.

In Mark 10 we read the story of Bartimaeus the blind beggar from Jericho.  When he heard that Jesus was near by he began to shout and ask Jesus to have mercy on him.  Others told him to be quiet but he couldn’t help but continue to call out to one who could have mercy on him. Jesus heard his cry for help and healed him right there on the spot.  After that the formerly blind beggar that could now see started to follow Jesus.  Why?  He couldn’t help but do anything else.  

Make It Personal:  When was the last time you used the phrase “I can’t help it?”  In what manner did you use it?  Think about how that phrase and perhaps others that could be turned around and used in a positive way in the future.  Where this is darkness, spread light!

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes  

For Such A Time As This

Read: Esther 4

When many Christians hear the phrase “For Such A Time As This” they immediately think of the story of Esther.  Why?  Because Esther 4:14 in the Bible is where this phrase comes from.  God called Esther and placed Esther in a position as Queen to help save her people and save a nation.  Did you know that no name, title, or pronoun for God is used in the ten chapters of Esther?  However, God’s sovereign hand and presence is clear throughout this wonderful story in scripture.

Why is this phrase so well known?  I think it’s because it is a testimony to how God works in our world and in our lives.  When the time is right and the call is there we need to respond with willing hearts and commitment to God’s kingdom in this world.  Circumstances don’t usually just happen by chance, often times they point to God’s hand in our day to day lives.

Esther stepped up and made a difference when that time came in her life.  What about us?  How is God arranging things in your life to make a difference, be the difference, or start something new?  Verse 14 of chapter 4 proclaims that God will find a way with or without our participation, but it is always crucial for us to step up and be counted when we are called upon.

Make It Personal:  How does this phrase relate or speak to you right now about your life?  “You have come to this place and time and have been called in this way for such a time as this.”  Be sure to step up and step into whatever God is doing in your life right now.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes  

So Small To So Big

Read: Matthew 13:31-35

Many people know about the large California Redwood trees.  Some of them are over 3,500 years old and grow to be over 200 feet tall.  The tallest one currently is 274 feet tall and has a diameter of 57 feet.  It’s name: “General Sherman.” The General is by volume the largest known living single-stem tree on earth.  These trees are amazing in many ways.  Imagine the fact that some of these trees in California began growing 1,500 years before Jesus Christ walked on the earth.  Truly Amazing!

Here is another amazing fact from The Sequoia National Forest.  The size of the sequoias that are being planted today are no bigger than a very small twig you would find in your yard after a wind storm.  It’s amazing to think that with time, patience, and care this small twig could someday become a mighty Redwood tree that people would drive thousands of miles to see.

That’s also a great way to view our lives.  As we journey though life God wants us to be planting small seeds in other’s lives that can grow to produce large things for God’s Kingdom.  Many times we feel like it needs to make a huge impact right from the start to be a success, but in God’s view a small seed or small twig that is planted can someday develop into a wonderful thing.  Jesus talks about this in Matthew 13 when he shares the parable of the mustard seed.  He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)

Make It Personal:  Remember this, the investment you make for God into someone’s life could develop into something so much bigger than you can imagine now.  It might be a child, or grandchild.  It might be a friend or co-worker.  It might be something that will develop in your own life.  Gather up the twigs and start planting!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

God’s Chosen People

Read: Colossians 3:12-17

As I have read the headlines recently I have noticed a trend.  One of them asked a question, “Why Is Everyone So Rude Right Now?”  News stories recently have documented how airplane passengers, restaurant patrons, school board meetings, and many other places have seen an increase in people getting bent out of shape and even violent over various situations.  Yes, it’s been a tough couple of years, but we must not lose our sanity or our patience with each other.

This holds especially true for those of us who are followers of Jesus. The apostle Paul says it so well in Colossians 3 when he 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.”

This encouragement does not mean that we cannot speak up when something needs to be said.  It just reminds us that how we speak and how we react is very important.  As Paul says, we need to let love lead the way.  Kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience are how we are to respond to challenges on this earth as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.  That includes those things and people we might disagree with as well.

Make It Personal:  How often do you get bent out of shape over things going on in your life, in our country, or in the world?  How do you handle yourself during those times?  We need to be careful to remember the encouragement of God to let love lead the way as we react to those things.  We must let the love, kindness, and humility of Jesus lead our way.

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes 

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  

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