Weekly devotional for 3/18/19

Walking with Jesus
Rev. Sue Beall
When I was a pre-school child we lived in a small town in Texas where everyone knew everyone, and everyone looked out for their neighbor’s child. My mom often sent me on my tricycle to the local mercantile store to pick up thread, zippers, and various needs for her sewing endeavors. I rode my tricycle down the sidewalks of that small town like they were part of our back yard. Being sent on an errand by my mother was something I looked forward to because I got to meet people on the street and in the stores. I never feared the traffic, because people looked out for me. I never feared a stranger because that little town was a safe environment. It was not at all like our world today. No parent would dare send their child to the store on their tricycle today because of the danger.
When God sent his Son into our world, even though he was born in the small town of Bethlehem, it was not a safe place either. It was filled with evil just as our world is today. There was no doubt that Jesus life was in danger from the very beginning. Herod the Great would have killed him as an infant if his parents had not escaped with him to Egypt through the advice of an angel. Yet, in all, that danger and evil Jesus came to bring the love of God to this world, and share our human condition by bringing God’s love to us.
As he prayed to God the Father just prior to his death on the cross he prayed for his disciples who he was sending into the world with that same love to share with others. He sends us on this mission also. And each day we have many opportunities as sent ones to share God’s love. So as we begin our day let us ask ourselves, “How will I share God’s love today?”
Pray for God to guide you to someone to whom you can share God’s love. It may be a simple act of kindness, generosity, a smile for someone who needs an uplift in their spirit, or giving a helping hand to someone in need. It may be words of encouragement or comfort that someone needs to hear. If we let God guide us through the Holy Spirit we will find a way to let Christ send us with the Good News of God’s love. Pray for God’s guidance, because Jesus sends you to share this news with others.

Don’t Skip Over Advent!

Are you as shocked as many others are at how we rush into Christmas?  When I entered a store on Tuesday, September 4 (the day after Labor Day), I didn’t expect to see aisles of Christmas products, but there they were!  Wait a minute!  What about Halloween/Reformation Day, All Saints Day, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving?  In our rush to get to Christmas, are we going to skip all those special days?
Even more tragic, are we going to skip right over the Advent Season–those special weeks for getting spiritually ready for Christmas and the miracle of God being born in a manger just so he could die on a cross for us?  May that miracle of love never be taken lightly nor become routine for any of us.
I hate shopping, but I confess I joined over a thousand shoppers on a chilly Black Friday morning, standing in line hoping to grab a special bargain (and I did).  But as I waited and looked at the line–long before I got there and becoming blocks long as time went on–I was reminded of a recent, haunting Christmas song by Becky Kelley:  ‘Where’s the line to see Jesus?’  That’s the question she was asked by her 4-year-old nephew, Spencer, as he saw the long line waiting to see Santa Claus.
Maybe like me, you also have and will spend time standing in some long lines. but are we standing in the long line of saints waiting to see Jesus?  The greatest gift isn’t in the mall (real or virtual)–the real Gift is in the manger–and He is God’s Gift for every sinner.  As we get ready to celebrate His first coming, may we also prepare for His second coming.
Martin Luther wrote a beautiful Christmas hymn, ‘From Heaven Above to Earth I Come’ and one verse can be our Advent prayer:  ‘Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child, make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled, within my heart, that it may be a quiet chamber kept for Thee.’
As Mary, amid all the excitement of that first Christmas, found time to ‘ponder all these things in her heart.’ may we also, amid all the chaos and confusion of this Christmas, find some quiet time and place to think about, to meditate, to marvel at God’s great love for us in sending His only Son to be our only Beautiful Savior.
May God bless your Advent so He can better bless your Christmas!
God Loves You & So Do I
Pastor Bob

Thanksgiving greetings from Pastor Bob

Psalm 107:1 is a great guide for our Thanksgiving celebrations.  It begins with ‘give thanks.’  Surely not just on one day, but every day we have much for which to be thankful (God’s blessings on the good days and the presence of God and His people on the bad days).  It continues ‘to the Lord.’  We don’t pat ourselves on the back and take credit for our blessings, but our Thanksgiving is directed to God, the source of all blessings.

 

The psalmist continues by giving us the reason we give thanks to the Lord: ‘for He is good.’  Throughout another year God has preserved, provided for and protected His people on earth; pouring out His gifts for sinners who have neither earned nor deserved any of them.  After urging us to look back with thanksgiving over the past year filled with good gifts from God, the verse ends by inviting us to look to the future with hope, joy, and faith: ‘His love endures forever.’

 

Perhaps some things came to an end in this past year, but God and His love for us will never end.  As we say and hear on our weekends:  there is nothing you can do to make God love you any less than He does and there is nothing you have to do to make God love you any more than He already does.

 

We look back to the past, we look at the present and we look ahead to the future and give thanks that neither God nor His love for us will ever change.

 

Take a moment this Thanksgiving to look back, look around and look ahead–not just to next year but for all of eternity–and thank our great God for His everlasting goodness and love.

 

God loves you & so do I!
Pastor Bob

July 30, 2018 — IGNITE

(Via de Cristo members, please see note at the end of this message.)

So I just finished at a fantastic National Gathering of fellow members of Via de Cristo in Palm Beach, Florida. What a powerful time! People from all over the U.S. were there. As the Spiritual Director for the ministry I worked closely with those in charge of the worship services. What a great group, ranging from those reading the Word, to leading the service, assisting in communion and those leading the worship and bringing the Word. Awesome is definitely a word that comes to my mind.

I had a couple of opportunities to share the Word and lead people into prayer. For those of you who know me, you know for some I really push the ticket. I mean I encourage people to rise up and live the abundant life in Jesus name. Some sit back and take it all in – others jump into the deep end of the pool, if you know what I mean.

After the last service, I had opportunity to talk with two of the women who sang on the Praise team. One apologetically asked me, since I talk of faith so much, have I ever had any failures? I had to tell her the truth – more than I can number! As a matter of fact, I told her of a time my bride and I actually sat down and wrote out a list of 150 attempts in ministries that never panned out… flopped… busted… washed out!

I’m sharing this with you because I need you to understand that when you can’t understand it… when you want to stop believing in it… when you’re struggling and hurting through it… it’s God working. I wholeheartedly believe that!

You see, someone is facing even harder obstacles and yet it seems easier for you to just wave the white flag of surrender, or throw in the towel. Somebody opened an email and it was another denial. Somebody sorted the mail and the check didn’t show up. Somebody’s going back to the doctor with no good news. Somebody’s depending on others and they’re not showing up.

You may be frustrated but don’t lose your faith. You may be discouraged but don’t you dare give in. You may get depressed but don’t discard your deliverance.

Because like my bride and I, you’ve got to believe something greater is headed your way. That’s right, after counting 150 failures, we made some more, but kept right on going. We believe that if the enemy is trying so hard, it’s only because God has already signed the order of protection over our lives.

So, although we can get frustrated, we’re going to stand on the battlefield and fight. You can be frustrated, but don’t fall. If you get knocked down, get into the infirmary so you can get back to the infantry. Even in our frustration we still need to be faithful and fearless!

Read this…
“But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: What might seem like a failure in your eyes, is really triumphant in God’s eyes, because you haven’t given up yet!

Father,
I will not lose my courage. I am looking for my reward. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

PS (VdC). I want to thank everyone in Via de Cristo in allowing me to invade your lives with this word of encouragement the last two years. Not being on the Board of Directors anymore, this will be the last Ignite 2018 you will receive from VdC. However, I will still be writing these words of encouragement Monday through Friday and if you would like to continue to receive them, please email me (mmmarxhausen@gmail.com) and I will be glad to include you on my contact list and send it to you. God loves you and so do I!

July 27th, 2018 — IGNITE

As I read the Word today, there were many thoughts tumbling through my head about how I feel when things start falling into place and start working out for my benefit. Hopefully you can relate.

Maybe we notice it or not, but as we’ve been planning and working, and then working and plan, and things start happen, we find ourselves “in the grove.” And I’ve got to tell you – there are few things better than when your life starts comeing together.

Your relationships are good… your job is going well… financially you’re secure… you physically feel good… you’re faithfully reading your Bible… your prayer time is precious… the sin you’ve struggled with seems distant – and this isn’t a dream. This is really happening and you feel good about it.

There are seasons when our lives feel good, everything is going our way, we’re grounded in our faith and bumps in our “spiritual road” don’t bother us much.

Then, all of a sudden, one bad turn turns into another bad turn, which turns into another bad turn and we find ourselves discouraged. This happens for many reasons and it’s often because whether we realize it or not, we begin to pull away from God, believing that we need Him less. The small bumps in the road seem to suddenly turn into massive potholes.

Rehoboam is a perfect example of this. He was the son of King Solomon and heir to the throne. There were some early snags in his career, but then everything started falling into place and was going fine. Here’s what we read in the Word…
“It took place when the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong that he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 12:1

We’re not that much different from Rehoboam. I don’t know about you, and I hate to admit and confess this, but it’s so  easy to forget my God and His blessings, and start to rely on myself.

We overestimate our own strength; acting as though we are our own Superman, and as though we can tackle anything alone. We essentially abandon God for what we think is the best for us. But the truth is, Jesus says…
“… apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

But, let me tell you, it doesn’t have to happen! You and I, by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, can create consistency in our faith by intentionally remaining in fellowship with God.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: As you hit your stride and things begin to click, remember to thank the One who has brought you to this place of consistency.

If there’s a steady stream of thanks and praise coming from your mouth and mind, you’ll seldom forget the One who supplies all you needs. That Superman cape doesn’t fit you anyway.

Father,
I can’t do this life on my own. I need you this day and everyday. In Jesus name I pray this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July25th, 2018 — IGNITE

I remember as a little boy trying to get my mom to react in a certain way. It was during those times that I wanted something. Maybe it was snack… to go play… to watch TV. But for whatever reason, she said, “No.” Maybe it was too close to supper time, or she didn’t want me just wasting away in front of the tube.

Well, I had seen my friend try something with his mom and it worked, so I thought I’d try it with my mom to see if I could make it work. My plan? My magnificent plan? Hold my breath! Yup, that was my brilliant plan. I was going to get what I wanted by holding my breath, and then my mom, seeing my face grow red in desperation, was surely going to give in to my demands. I was going to get what I wanted just like my friend.

Unfortunately for me, my mom let me hold my breath without batting an eye. I remember her standing right in front of me, and even as I think of it – I think she had a smirk on her face. It was as if she didn’t care (which wasn’t the truth). What she knew, and I didn’t in my lack of experience, was eventually, I would come up for air. And of course I did. And I still didn’t get what I wanted. As a matter of fact I got a life lesson for attempting my foolish act, if you know what I mean.

I tell you that little encounter because of what I read in the Word today…
“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” Psalm 150:6

That verse made me stop and think of the many times I have the opportunity to praise my God for all that He’s done for me and is still doing, but instead, I clam up my mouth, and in a sense – hold my breath.

I want something… so I pray. It’s doesn’t happen immediately, so instead of praising, I complain. I hold my breath!

I step out in faith, but my way isn’t always as clear as I’d like it, because I’ve never been this way before. Nor is it as easy as I had hoped. As a matter of fact, it’s hard cutting a new path. Instead of praising Him for new adventures – I doubt. I hold my breath.

I know He’s my supplier, but the funds aren’t always there. Instead of praising Him, I either take it into my own hands… let my mind wander for solutions… or let fear rise up. I hold my breath.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Everything with life and breath is to praise the LORD. That includes you and me. It includes the times we didn’t get what we wanted and the times we are still hoping to come. Stop holding your breath – it’s only going to give you a headache!

Father,
I will praise You today because there is breath in my lungs. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 26th, 2018 — INGITE


I get the opportunity to meet a lot of different people. Now, I don’t mean different as in “different”, but many people from all over the world. I actually like meeting new people, talking to them about whatever they want to talk about, chiming in on their conversation with my own experiences and celebrating this thing we call life. I like hearing where they’re from and what they do and why they do it.

Today I was reading about this lady in the Bible – she was a queen from a far away land – who heard of a king, whose fame reached her homeland and she wanted to meet him. We don’t even know her name. She’s just listed as the Queen of Sheba. (2 Chronicles 9)

Now, I’ve been to a number of countries in the world – not close to all of them – but I was a little curious, because I couldn’t recall, geographically, where Sheba was. So I had to do a little research. Turns out Sheba is the country of Yemen today, which is in the southern part of Arabia. At one time it was a very wealthy kingdom with all kinds of gold, spices and precious woods.

What I didn’t know was the distance. Sheba is about 1500 miles from Jerusalem. Think about the transportation service of her time and what it must have been like to travel that far.

Now the Bible tells us she heard about King Solomon and all his wealth and his wisdom, even from that far away, and she wanted to meet him for herself. When she got audience with Solomon the Bible tells us…
“… she spoke with him about all that was on her heart.” 2 Chronicles 9:1

And…
“Solomon answered all her questions.” 2 Chronicles 9:2

After all her quizzing… her thorough investigation… her inquiring… the Bible says…
“She was breathless.” 2 Chronicles 9:4

Then I remembered that Jesus even spoke about her, but I couldn’t quite remember what He said about her, so I had to look it up. Here’s what Jesus said…

“The Queen of the South shall rise up with this generation at the judgement and shall condemn it, because she came from the end of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” Matthew 12:42

What’s His point? Well, if the Queen of Sheba traveled “from the ends of the earth” to meet King Solomon… see his kingdom… ask her questions and hear his wisdom… how much more should we seek Jesus and the glory of His kingdom?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Who would you like to meet? Who would you like to talk to? Take a selfie with? Who is it that would take your breath away? Now, multiply that by a gazillion, because when you meet Jesus, you’ll have meet the best! How far would you travel to meet Him?

Father,
I want to meet Jesus all day long today. Jesus, it’s in Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 24th, 2018 — IGNITE

So how do you perform? I mean, does it make a difference how you do things based upon who’s watching? For some people it does.

I remember a guy I used to work with. I thought he was a terrible worker because he never really did anything unless the boss came strolling through our area. Then he was up on his feet, lickety split, impressing the boss with his diligence and hard work. Of course it was all fake. I think our boss knew it, but just never did anything about it.

So, does it make any difference how you do, what you do, whether others are watching or not? If someone is watching, let’s say your boss, do you put a little more effort into it, so as to impress him/her?

I learned a good many years ago that I play to an audience of One. There’s really only One who’s watching me, and is watching me all the time, and I don’t have to try to impress Him. As a matter of fact, I can’t impress Him. But still He loves watching me anyway.

I’ve had the privilege and opportunity to preach before thousands, and lead worship for a crowd. I’ve also preached before a handful and sang for one. In the end, it wasn’t about how many noticed… or how many were watching… or did they appreciate what I was doing… or would I get complimented, but knowing there was One who I wanted to bring glory to.

I’ll have to be honest with you… there have been times and still are times when I catch myself trying to impress somebody… trying to be noticed… trying to be recognized. It doesn’t take as long for me anymore to catch myself and remember there’s One I’m living for.

Why do I share all of this with you? Because this is what I read in the Word today. Here’s what Jesus said…
“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight.” Luke 12:35

Let me see if I can paraphrase that for you to try to apply it to our lives today…
Be the kind of person who never needs to be told to be ready, because you always live in that condition.

It’s easy for us to say we’re Christians, but take that one topic… that one person… that one moment in our past and we no longer are ready for much of anything, especially letting the light of Jesus shine through us for people to see.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Bottom line… we all play to an audience of One. God is always watching us. We don’t have to try to impress Him. Because of Jesus in our lives – He’s already impressed. He wants us to stay in state of being all the time. He want us to be the kind of people who don’t need to be told to be ready, because we are!

Father,
I always want to be ready. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 23rd, 2018 — IGNITE

Stuff! We all have it! We have closets and rafters full of stuff.. We have stuff we haven’t used in years. We have stuff we don’t even remember having. We have stuff that no longer works. We have stuff that is sentimental but is only taking up space.

But did you know that our accumulating of stuff can become a blockage to serving others? Common sense says if you have more stuff then you should have more ability to help others in need, but seldom is that true.

Jesus sees it from a different viewpoint. If you ever sit down and read Luke 12, Jesus tells a parable of a rich farmer whose land was very productive – so much so that he decides to tear down his old, small barns and build bigger, new ones. (Luke 12:18-19)

Jesus then tells His disciples (including you and me) that our lives should be on a radically different path – living for His Kingdom, and here’s how He ends it…
“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:33-34

So what’s He saying? Well, as followers of Jesus, a big part of our mission here on earth is to be a glimpse of Jesus’ coming kingdom. Our life is suppose to be like an appetizer for the upcoming, amazing banquet feast of the Lamb. When we have too much stuff, it hinders us from living out our mission.

Let me see if I can explain why…

The more stuff we have, the more we want more stuff. It’s a consumer mentality and it’s addictive. The draw… the tendency is to pursue the bigger… the nicer… the better… the fancier (you fill in the blank).

The more stuff we have, the stronger our grip is on that stuff. Somehow our stuff easily becomes the source of our security and has the capacity to turn into an idol we worship.

The more stuff we have, the more our stuff becomes the desire of our hearts. Remember Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” 

The more stuff we have, the more of our time and energy it requires. Just look at your calendar. A lot of time is used keeping up our stuff, rather than serving others.

The more stuff we have, the less we are able to see the needs of others. It blind us… make us oblivious to those around us.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: If you’re anything like me you have stuff – some good stuff… some unusable stuff. But today recognize that God has blessed you with stuff so you can be a blessing to others and be a glimpse of His kingdom right where you live, with the people around you.

Father,
Help me to use my stuff to bless someone else today. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 19th, 2018 — IGNITE


Have you ever had a song or a tune get stuck in your head? You know, it’s a tune you’re familiar with and after hearing it, you keep playing it over and over again for the rest of the day. You hum it… you whistle it… you even start singing it out loud.

Most of you will remember the old tune to the TV show, “Ponderosa.” Or how about, “Mission Impossible.” (Even now you’re singing it, aren’t you?) How about the words to “Gilligan's Island”? Or the “Flintstones”?

It doesn’t take much, does it? You can probably start singing your favorite song from the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s, not missing a beat or mixing up the words. Most of you can probably do the same thing with “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.”

But if that’s true, it’s also true we don’t forget the bad stuff we’ve been through. We rehash it like it happened yesterday, though it was twenty years ago. We can tell the story of the injustice… the hardship… the loss with as much energy as we had when it happened. It’s easy for us to reiterate our life story to explain why we are, what we are, today. It’s like a tune stuck in our head. The tune isn’t always there, but given the right impetus, it immediately is ready for us to replay.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in reruns. I’ve wasted enough time reliving my past, wondering how it happened… wondering what I’d be like today if those things didn’t happen… wondering why they happened… wondering about the things I would have done differently. But none of those things are going to happen, and so the tune just gets stuck in my head, and I sing it.

So, if you want to, you can join me today in making a change. I’m going to purposefully, intentionally, consciously sing a new song today. That’s right!  By the power of the Holy Spirit within me, I’m going to sing a new song. Not the old one I’ve known forever, that I’ve memorized. No, a new song. One that has never been sung before. One that will tell a different story. A story of hope and a future. A story of joy and strength. A story for today and tomorrow instead of the past. I’m praying that into existence today. Why? Because this is what I read in the Word…
“I will sing a new song to Thee, O God.” Psalm 144:9

Which makes me think that maybe my God would like to hear a different tune from the one I’ve been playing.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: What new song is just waiting to burst out of you? What new song, the one that has yet to be written, is just on the tip of your tongue, ready to be sung? Sing a new song today!

Father,
You’ve already put a new song in my heart. Help me sing it out today. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen