Thursday, June 22, 2017

DEEP LOVE

1 Peter 4:7-11New Living Translation (NLT)

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.
10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

What is deep love? In our world today I think we have lost sight of what real love is. The deep kind of love we NEED to share is sacrificial. Shallow love is selfish love. Love is not about what we can get from it. Real, DEEP  Love is about serving someone else. Real, DEEP Love is about giving up your wants and needs so you can address the wants and needs of someone else. Real, DEEP Love is the love of Jesus Christ. 
God has granted us gifts, not for our own satisfaction, but for serving others out of love. The truth of the matter is, we DO get satisfaction and pure joy when we are deeply loving someone else. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and spirit means you sacrifice all to serve the Lord. Love is amazing when we do it right. I praise God I have the example of Jesus Christ to know what REAL LOVE is. I praise that he REALLY, DEEPLY, Loves me. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Voice

Romans 15:1-7New Living Translation (NLT)

15 We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”[a] Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

What do you live for?  Who do you live for? 
 I read a leadership book a few weeks ago called "Leading for God's Sake". What a wonderful book (Thanks for the gift Phil & Marlene Bontrager!) It claims leaders must focus on their purpose and the actions that back up that purpose. My purpose as a teacher is to serve my students. It's not to please an administrator. It is not to please my fellow staff members. It is not to satisfy the school board. Don't get me wrong. I honor my leaders, my fellow teachers, and the group of men and women tasked with setting policy for our school corporation. As a matter of fact, when I serve my students I DO serve those groups of people. When I lose focus I let down my school corporation who hired me to serve the students.

I need to make sure my actions back up my purpose. I hear so many teachers say they are putting the students first. It almost becomes cliche. They say they put students first but selfishness creeps in to every decision. Selfishness can destroy your purpose. It can get in the way of serving others. As a teacher, one of the best ways to make sure you are focused on your purpose is to ask the ones you serve. Student Voice is so important and most often neglected by teachers. What do students want? What do they need to meet THEIR goals?  My duty as a teacher is to serve my students, period.

Prayer is our VOICE with the Creator of the Universe. Isn't that amazing? WE have a voice and we have an open channel to the God of Abraham. I have seen the power of God through my conversations with him. He has set ME as priority in his life. He has chosen me and I will serve him with all the my energy. God cares so much about us that he sent his son to serve us and ultimately died for us. He could have been selfish. I'm glad he wasn't. Praise God for his love. Praise God for the opportunity to serve him and the students I teach every day. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Call me Rhoadzie!

Luke 10:20New Living Translation (NLT)

20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

My name is Steven Lawrence Rhoades. My dad used to tell me we were related to the "Rhoades Raiders from Russia". That conversation came about when my Grandfather claimed his family "Lewis" were descendants of Merriwether Lewis from the Lewis and Clark expedition. I later found out the famous explorer never married and was an only child. Names are so important. They say a lot about who you are and are forever connected to your character and the way you live.

Most of my close friends call me  "Rhoadzie".

My nickname is a family name that has been passed down from generation to generation. This might be the name I cherish the most because it is a FAMILY name. When I was in middle school one of my friends called me "Highways". Fortunately it never stuck. My sisters dressed me up in girls clothes (when I was REALLY young) and called me Stephanie. I hated that name. I swore I would never marry or even date someone with the name. I changed my mind. (I Love you Stephanie Rhoades!) My middle name is Lawrence. I love that name because it also was passed down to me from my Grandfather on my Mom's side. I know people that hate their own name. I love mine and cherish it and the ties it has to my past and what they have represented. 

The most important name in my life is Jesus. I am not afraid to proclaim his name above all others. Although people try to trash this name,it has survived the test of time and the attacks from the vilest of sinners. I am proud to claim this name above all others and will do everything I can to live a life worthy of being a follower. Praise God for the life of his son Jesus and the death he suffered for me on that cross. PRAISE THE NAME OF JESUS!


Monday, June 19, 2017

What's in a name?

“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬. http://bible.com/116/1pe.1.13.

What do you do to prepare your mind for action? The obvious answer is studying the word of God, prayer, and worship. Yes, these disciplines are so valuable in keeping our minds focused on the mission assigned by our Lord. There are other things we need to do to prepare our minds for action. In my daily devoitional today from "Insight for Living",  Chuck Swindol, talks about remembering people's names. I was convicted. I need to put effort in to remembering the names of people I meet.

There is nothing more valuable in building a relationship than to call someone by name. I have been approached by former students in Walmart and I have learned to avoid calling them by name. I just can't remember them. I am always impressed when people come up to me and remember me by name. I have to put more effort into that. I blame it on lack of memory, but it is probably more about effort. It's about focusing on the people you interact with. It is about caring to put them at the center of the conversation and avoiding distraction. It's about getting to know someone beyond pleasantries and connecting with them and the lives they lead.

I am glad God knows me by name. He knows everything about me. Even if I reject him and forget to call on him for years, he never forgets who I am. I praise him for his love!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Living like there's nothing but bad news!

“Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬.  http://bible.com/116/1co.15.1-4.

We are all sinners saved by the grace of the Lord. Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes we get caught up in the craziness of the world and lose sight of our salvation. We know the good news but we live like there's nothing but bad news. If we believe there really is no good news, maybe we never really believed in the grace of God in the first place. Are we confident in his Amazing Grace or is it just some words to an old hymn? Do we believe Jesus is the answer to life's turmoil or his he just a historical religious figure?

Turmoil surrounds our lives, all parts of our lives. I have a couple of dear friends faced with that in their own church. Yes, even Christian fellowship can be tumultuous.  We need to focus on one simple but glorious mission, bring others to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Satan wants nothing more than for us to forget about that purpose. We can't get distracted by, the sin around us.  We can't get distracted by the lies, deceit, selfishness, anger, and hate We see every day. It shows up in our families, our coworkers, our friends, and yes, in our churches. 

Lord Jesus, Open my eyes to your light. Open my heart and keep me focused on my real purpose. I need your hedge of protection from the evil that surrounds us and even lies in the midst of our daily lives. It is only by your grace and mercy that I have been saved. I praise you Lord. I praise you within the midst of a chaotic and sinful world. I need your eyes to remain focused on my real purpose, to serve only you. Amen!