October 31st 2016 Affirm

As I was reading the Word this morning I was reminded of a High School classmate of mine, I’ll call him Lowell. Lowell was really shy and somewhat awkward, but very likeable. He kept to himself most of the time. He was much smaller than the rest of us and it seemed to me that he got picked on quite a bit.

One day, one of the upper classmen thought it would be funny to spray Lowell in the face with the fire hydrant. I don’t know what could have happened to Lowell but I do know what happened to that upper classmen. I lost my temper, grabbed him by the throat, backed him up against the wall and told him never to even look at Lowell again. I’m not saying that was the right thing to do… I’m just telling you what happened.

Have you ever been made fun of, put down, teased, bullied, ridiculed? If you have, I really want to encourage you to read Psalm 123. It’s just four short verses. King David wrote this Psalm and in it he tells us about being the victim of some bullies. However, his reaction, his solution, his way of handling his problem was much better than mine. He actually tells us a much healthier way of what we might call “retaliation.”

Read this…
“I look to You, heaven-dwelling God, look up to You for help.” Psalm 123:1 MSG

Did you catch that? Did you hear David’s secret tactic? He wasn’t thinking of ways to “get back” or “pay back” his enemies. He made a conscious decision to simply look to God for mercy. David wasn’t interested in revenge. He simply wanted a confirmation of God’s love for him, absolute assurance of God’s control and dominion in his life and that perfect peace that comes from knowing and totally trusting God.

Here’s the most important part – David allowed God to define who he was, not the world, not the bully. Oh, don’t get me wrong, David’s feelings were hurt. He took a beating, not necessarily like Lowell, but on the inside it stung, it crushed him every time it happened. But He knew that God was on his side.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: “Keep your eyes on Jesus…’ as the Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:2, “… who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed…”

Father,
As You well know, the world around us can be really tough and when we get beat up it’s easy for us to lose our way or react as the world does. Jesus, You are our Influence. Holy Spirit, help us to live more like our Savior today. Jesus, it’s in Your name we pray. Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

October 24th, 2016 – Affirm

I have a couple of all-time favorite movies I like to watch. Many of them star Robin Williams. “Patch Adams” comes to mind, (I love that movie) as well as “Dead Poet’s Society” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.” On the top of that list is “Awakenings” with Robert DeNiro. The movie is based on a real life experience.

Robin Williams plays the part of a medical doctor, Dr. Oliver Sacks and Robert DeNiro plays the part of Leonard Lowe, a man suffering from what was called “sleeping sickness” which left people in a catatonic state. A experimental drug was tested on these patients and Leonard was the first patient to be “awakened.”

After thirty years of existing in a sleep-like state, Leonard suddenly regains his ability to walk and talk. In one scene in the movie, he’s so excited by his new life that he calls the doctor in the middle of the night and says he has to talk to him. The doctor hurries over and Leonard says: “We’ve got to tell everybody, we’ve got to remind them, we’ve got to remind them how good it is.”

“How good what is, Leonard?” the doctor asks.

Leonard picks up a newspaper: “Read the newspaper. See what they say, all bad, it’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is about, they’ve forgotten what it is to be alive, they need to be reminded, they need to be reminded about what they have and what they can lose. And what I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!”

Having just been awakened from his “sleeping sickness”, Leonard discovers anew the joy and the wonder of life. He also discovers that most people, even though they’re walking and talking and seemingly living their lives, are in fact just as asleep as he was.

I thought of that as I read Isaiah 35 today. God says…
“Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, ‘Courage! Take heart! GOD is here, right here, on His way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on His way! He’ll save you!’ Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.” Isaiah 35:3-5 MSG

Could it be possible that you’ve been “sleep walking” lately? Just going through the motions, unaware of the greatest truth there is: God is here, right here and has made all things new through His Son, Jesus Christ and that new life is freely yours.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t forgot what it’s like to be made alive in Christ. That new life is yours, don’t sleep through it!

Father,
Awaken me by the power of Your Spirit. I want to experience new life today. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

October 17th, 2016 Affirm

I remember reading, though I don’t remember where, someone saying that we all have three basic needs. Every human being is created with these needs and finds fulfillment when these needs are met.

It was stated that we all have a need to be wanted. We have a part of us that wants to belong. Oh, we might like our alone time, our quiet time, but we do want to be wanted by others. We understand that we were made for community, for family, and we desire to be a part of it. We were not made to be the Lone Ranger, an island in the ocean, a pie-in-the-sky.

Secondly, we all want to be needed. I guess that’s just another level higher than wanted. We all come with our gifts and talents and when we realize who we are and how God has gifted us, we want to use those gifts for others and for our God. And in a good way, we want to be recognized as someone who contributes to the greater good. We’re not just consumers who take and take, but investors who give and give.

The last basic need is, we all want to be loved. Inside of us is a cavity that has a need to be filled, but not filled with just anything, but filled with love, genuine love. Love that is authentic.

But here’s the problem… we live in a fallen world, with fallen people. We ourselves aren’t always open to wanting, needing or loving people and we in turn have experienced the same. We’ve been hurt numerous times by being left out, unnecessary, and undesirable. We’ve been overlooked and turned away. Then what? If these basic needs are true how will we or anyone ever have them met?

Well, you know me, I have a Word for that. I found it in the book of Lamentations of all spots. Read this…
“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return… His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.” Lamentations 3:28-31, 32b MSG

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: The truth is… we do have basic needs that need to be met. The truth is… we aren’t always going to have them met. The truth is” we aren’t always going to meet everyone else’s needs either. The truth is… God will never walk out on you and He has stockpiles of loyal love waiting for you. God loves you and so do I.

Father,
Thank You for filling my cup today. Thank You for reminding me that You will always satisfy my soul. Give me eyes to love the people around me today like You do. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

Affirm October 10th, 2016

So my bible reading today was Jeremiah 37-39. Most of it is about two people… Jeremiah the prophet and the King of Judah, Zedekiah. Zedekiah is only the king of Judah because the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, allows him to be king. He’s really just a puppet king.

Zedekiah’s an interesting person. At one time he wants to hear God’s word through the prophet concerning the future of the land, but he doesn’t want anyone else to know that he’s seeking this advice from Jeremiah. He’s kind of a closet believer. He’s afraid of what the other leaders would think and what they would do to him since none of them approve of the ministry of Jeremiah or believe the prophetic word. We get a better, bigger picture of his personality when we read verses like these…
“The king questioned him privately…” Jeremiah 37:17 MSG
“Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah right there, but in secret…” Jeremiah 38:16 MSG
“I’m afraid of the Judeans…” Jeremiah 38:19 MSG
Don’t let anyone know of this conversation…” Jeremiah 38:24 MSG

Those words caught my attention and made me start thinking that there are times we’re not much different than Zedekiah. We want to go to church… we want to worship God… we want to hear a good sermon… but our faith has become a private affair. I really don’t want anyone else know where I stand with Jesus. I’m certainly only going to be talking to a select few people, because, as I’ve said, my faith is my private business.

Many of us have grown up being taught we should never discuss income, politics and religion. I don’t know who made that rule up, but it sure seems dumb to me, especially the religion part.

Why wouldn’t we want to talk about the greatest event in the history of mankind? Why wouldn’t we want people to know that they’re unconditionally loved? Why wouldn’t we introduce them to the person who secured their forgiveness and offered them eternal life? Why wouldn’t we shout it from the mountaintops, the valleys, the highways and byways, unless of course, it’s a personal matter… a private concern and we’re afraid of what others might say or do.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t be a Zedekiah. As it turns out, because he kept the words Jeremiah gave him to himself, he watched as the king of Babylon killed all his sons and then all the leaders from Judah. Then Nebuchadnezzar blinded him, chained him up and imprisoned him for the rest of his life. You were created to give God praise. Don’t hold it in and most certainly don’t keep it to yourself. Be a friend… Make a friend…. And Bring a friend to Christ.

Father,
Forgive me for the times I’ve kept this precious gift of faith to myself. Help me really love people by telling them what matters most to me – YOU! In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

October 3rd Affirm

October 3rd Affirm 2016

A number of people have asked me why I write these morning devotions every day and I always have a simple answer for them – to encourage myself from God’s Word and hopefully someone else who might need it.

Discouragement is part of life. Discouragement comes most often when you do what you think is the right thing but experience poor results. You work hard, but you don’t make any progress. You show up to practice every day, giving it your all, but you lose every game. You spend time with your child – going out of your way to parent the best you know how – but they rebel.

Discouragement eats a hole in our hearts. It makes us want to quit, saying things we shouldn’t say, shaking our fists at God. I’m pretty sure that’s how Jeremiah felt. God called him to speak a harsh message to a rebellious people. He obeyed. Yet on one occasion Jeremiah so angered the senior priest in the temple, that the man arrested Jeremiah, beat him, threw him in jail, locking him in stocks. Here was a man in deep distress. He endured physical, emotional, spiritual, and professional anguish. He walked into deep despair, all for doing God’s will.

But here are four things you and I can learn from Jeremiah and be encouraged…

1.Be honest – tell God how you feel. This is what Jeremiah said…
“You pushed me into doing this, God, and I let you do it.” Jeremiah 20:7 MSG
Jeremiah wasn’t happy with what was going on in his life, and he was honest.

2. Be obedient – keep doing what you’re called to do.
“But if I say, ‘Forget it! No more God-Messages from me!’ The words are fire in my belly, a burning in my bones. I’m worn out trying to hold it in. I can’t do it any longer.” Jeremiah 20:9 MSG
Just obey!

3. Be watchful – know that the Lord is always with you.
“But God, a most fierce warrior, is at my side.” Jeremiah 20:11 MSG

4. Be worshipful – praise God with your whole heart.
“Sing to God! All praise to God!” Jeremiah 20:13 MSG

Let me close with a legend that reveals the source of discouragement. Supposedly, the devil put his tools up for sale, marking each for public inspection with its appropriate sale price. Included were hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, lying, and pride. Laid apart from these was a rather harmless looking but very well-worn tool – discouragement – marked at an extremely high price. Why the costly price? The devil answered: “Because it is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open a person’s heart with that when I can’t get near them with the other tools. Once inside, I can make them do whatever I choose. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since few people know it belongs to me.”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: God is on your side! He not only loves you… He likes you… and He’s proud of you!

Father,
Thank You for being my encouragement! In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen