Midweek Reflections

Take Care Of It

Read: James 1:19-27

I always enjoy the basketball season!  Especially when the Illini have a chance to play in the NCAA tournament like this past season.  There is also nothing quite like going to watch an intense high school basketball game or a game of grade school players trying to learn the pick and roll.  As I have attended many basketball games in my life I have noticed myself saying one phrase more than any other.  As the teams would come up the floor with the ball I would often say, “Take care of the ball!”

Obviously this comment would come from the realization that each possession was very important.  In any sport there is a direct connection between turnovers and the final outcome of the game.  The more I thought about that statement though, the more I realized that it connects with our daily lives as well.  God has given each of us the gift of life and it is an act of good stewardship on our part to take care of it.

When it comes to taking care of ourselves the first thing most people think of is our health.  It is important to eat healthy foods, exercise, and pay attention to the doctor’s orders.  But there is also a spiritual element to this that is just as important or probably the most important.

In James 1:22-25 the Bible says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like. But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continue in it, not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it, they will be blessed in what they do.”

With those words, James, the brother of Jesus is encouraging us to follow after, and not ignore God’s plan for our lives.  He is instructing us to take care of what God has blessed us with and to use our lives to bring glory and praise to our creator.  Just like many basketball teams, we tend to get careless at times.  We do things that we know are against God’s will and we don’t pay close enough attention to how our decisions are affecting our lives as well as those closest to us. We would do well to remember each day that our spiritual life, our relationships, our finances, our possessions, and every part of our being are worth taking care of. 

Make It Personal: God realizes that we are not perfect, and yet he desires for us to take care of this precious gift of life that he has given to us.  God has created us in His image and has given us families, responsibilities, and a purpose in life.  Maybe the next time we find ourselves forgetting about the face in the mirror or the life that we have been called to, we should whisper those words to ourselves, “Take care of it!”

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes           



Important Words!

Read: Philippians 1:3-11

Encouragement and humility are two of the greatest virtues in life.  Not only do they lift other people up, but they lift our spirits as well.  In the book of Philippians in the Bible Paul shares these virtues and others in various ways.  Take the time this week to read the whole book of Philippians to appreciate the full scope of joy, encouragement, and thanksgiving that Paul writes about.

As I considered those virtues of encouragement and humility, I remembered an email I recently received that said: The six most important words are, “I admit that I was wrong!”  The five most important words are, “You did a great job.”  The four most important words are, “What do you think?”  The three most important words are, “May I help?” The two most important words are, “Thank You!”  The most important word is, “We.” And the least important word is, “I”.

In verse 6 of Phillipians chapter 1 Paul says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  So often we get caught up in the needs that we have as individuals and forget about the needs of those whom God places in our path each day.  Paul encourages us in that verse to remember that we are called to bring about good things in life and speak positive words of encouragement to each other.  Those words flow out of our relationship with Jesus Christ and they can also be a wonderful testimony of his love and concern for others.

Paul says, “The fruit of righteousness” comes through Jesus Christ.  Let’s remember those important words and put the focus on others instead of ourselves.  As we read the New Testament we realize that this is how Jesus lived.  His humility and his ministry of encouragement to others is a great example for us to follow.

Make It Personal:  Take your most difficult relationship right now and use the encouragement of Philippians to approach it in a different way.  By blessing others in Christ we can often turn the bad into good.

 Be blessed this week,  Glen Rhodes       



Find The Good & Applaud

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

A man was writing at a post office desk and was approached by an older fellow with a post card in his hand.  The older man said, “Sir, could you please address this post card for me?”  The man gladly did so, agreeing also to write a short message and sign the card for the man.  Finally the younger man asked, “Now, is there anything else I can do for you?”  The older fellow thought about it for a moment and said, “Yes, at the end could you just put, ‘P.S. Please excuse the sloppy handwriting.'”

How often is it that we complain against those who do the most for us?  One of Zig Zigler’s famous quotes is, “Find the good and applaud.”  We would do good to remember that as we converse with family, friends, and co-workers throughout the week.  Too often we catch ourselves looking for the negative instead of affirming the positive.  In I Thessalonians 5:12-24 Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica and is ending his letter by encouraging them to encourage each other.  He says things like, “Live at peace with each other, don’t pay back wrong for wrong, be kind to each other, give thanks in all circumstances.”  In other words, don’t complain, but find something good to celebrate and give thanks for.  Find words of encouragement to speak into someone’s life.

In the Handbook of Short Story Writing author Muriel Anderson says that four of the most important words in her life are “Of course you can.”  She said, “I was fortunate to have a father who was good at saying of course you can at just the right moments.”  She goes on tell about one time when she was in high school and her family had moved to a city from a small town.  She had loved that small town and wrote an article about it and her time growing up there.  She wanted more than anything to have her article published in the small-town weekly paper.  She didn’t expect to be successful, though, because the paper was a weekly with a tight budget and published very little free-lance material.  “I don’t think I can get it published,” she said to her father.  Her dad responded with his usual encouragement and said, “Of course you can!”  She did and it launched her career as a very successful writer.  Our words can often make a huge difference!

Make It Personal: In a world that is often negative we would do well to be positive and encouraging.  In 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul says, “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Sounds like a tall order, but it is an order that can be filled when we are living in Christ and relying on his strength and encouragement to shine through us.  Blessings to you as you find the good and applaud! 

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes 



Got Faith?

Read: Luke 7:1-10

The story is told of two nuns who were on their way to the local nursing home one day.  As they traveled through town they noticed that their car was acting very strange and not running very well.  Two blocks later the vehicle came to a stop and they noticed the gas gauge was on empty.  They had run out of gas.  Conveniently there was a gas station two blocks down the road.

The two women looked around for something to transport a little bit a gasoline from the station to their car and could only find a bedpan from the nursing home in their backseat.  After they filled the bedpan with gas they headed back and started to pour the gas into their tank.  As they did that, a couple drove by and observed curiously what was happening along the road.  As they watched the nuns pour the gas from the bedpan into the car the women said to her husband, “Now that’s what I call faith!”

In Luke 7:1-10 there is a testimony of great faith.  A centurion has heard of Jesus and his miracles and has sent some of his people to ask Jesus for help.  The centurion had a servant who was very ill.  In verse 2 it says that he was sick and about to die.  As Jesus comes close to his house he sends another message.  He says that he is not worthy of Jesus coming to his house, but yet he would like to see his friend healed.  Jesus is amazed at the faith of this man.  He said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”  In verse 10 it says, “Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.”

Recently I ran across a poem by Nancy Spiegelberg and Dorothy Purdy entitled “If I had only known you.”  It goes like this…. “Lord, I crawled across the barrenness to you with my empty cup, uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment.  If only I had known You better, I’d have come running with a bucket.”  What mountain needs to be moved in your life?  Perhaps it’s time to put away our cups and break out the buckets.

Make It Personal: How is your faith level these days?  Do you have faith that Christ will show up and be there for you in your greatest hours of need?  Have you asked?  Have you called on his name?  One thing I have learned through the years is that I should never underestimate the power of Jesus Christ in my life.

Have a Faith-filled week,  Glen Rhodes



Creation Springs Forth

Read: Psalm 8

One of the nice things about this time of year is the ability to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather.  It is also an incredible sight to see God’s creation come to life right before our eyes.  It won’t be too long now until the trees will be full, the grass green, and the fields planted with the hopes of a bountiful harvest.  This time of year truly proclaims the truth of Genesis 1 when God said that it was good.

 When it comes to God’s creation there are many different views.  Some refuse to believe that God was involved, some debate the details of how it happened, and others discuss the time frame in which it happened.  It seems that many times we get caught up in the details and forget to appreciate the wonder of it all.  Isn’t it enough just to know and appreciate that God created it and that it wasn’t by happenstance.  Edward Conklin, professor of biology at Princeton University once said, “The probability of life originating from an accident is comparable to the probability of a dictionary resulting from an explosion in a printing factory.”

There is a story about Isaac Newton from many years ago that fits well with this.  Newton made a miniature replica of our solar system.  At its center was a large golden ball representing the sun, and revolving around it were smaller spheres attached to the ends of rods of varying lengths.  They represented Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and the other planets.  These were all geared together by cogs and belts to make them move around the sun in perfect harmony.

One day as Newton was studying the model, a friend who did not believe in the biblical account of creation stopped by for a visit.  Marveling at the device and watching as the scientist made the planets move in their orbits, the man exclaimed, “Why, Newton, what an exquisite thing!  Who made it for you?”  Without looking up, Newton said, “Nobody.”  “Nobody,” his friend said.  “That’s right, all of these balls and cogs and belts and gears just happened to come together, and wonder of wonders, by chance they began revolving in their set orbits and with perfect timing!”  Newton had to say no more, his point had been made.

Make it Personal: As we once again marvel at the springtime that will unfold before us, let us be reminded that God created it for us to enjoy, to care for, and to view as a reminder of his work and power in our world and universe.  That is what I like most about Spring, it testifies that God loves us and that God is still making things new in our world.  Enjoy the beautiful weather ahead everyone!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes      



That’s The Truth!

Read: Matthew 5:33-37

A Bloomberg Business Week article once shared a Cornell University professor’s survey of 30 undergraduates and their communications with others.  He found that lies were told in 37% of their phone calls, 25% of face to face conversations, and only 14% of emails.  He went on to share the reason for this by saying that it is because emails leave a permanent trail and the other forms of communication do not.

In other words, students were afraid of being found out about their lies.  I would assume this study would translate into our broader culture with close to the same percentages, which means one thing, people are much more willing to be dishonest or to lie if they know that it won’t come back to bite them in the future.

In Matthew 5 Jesus says that we are to be so honest that we shouldn’t even have to swear to someone that we are being truthful.  In other words, our lives are to be a testimony of honesty so that others do not doubt for even one minute whether we are telling them the truth or not.  And when we think that we are the only one that knows about a lie that we have told we are forgetting about the “all knowing” power of God.

Jesus says, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”  Be sure of yourself, be honest and truthful, and live your life with those character traits being evident to all those around you.  When people describe us may they say, “She is a woman of her word” or “He is a man of his word.”

  

Make It Personal:  As you go about this week think about the temptations that come about lying.  When you sense them coming, ask Jesus to help you be honest even if you and Jesus are the only ones that know about it.  In the long run this will allow you live a much more peaceful life.    

Be blessed this week, Glen Rhodes




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