February 27th, 2017 Devote

Sometimes when I read the Word of God first thing in the morning, it’s kind of like losing the warm water in your shower. If you can fathom that feeling you remember how startled you were, it almost took your breath away. One minute you’re standing beneath the nice warmth of water cascading down on you, when all of a sudden, without having touched the dial or no previous notification, it turns into a immediate, death defying feat to either get out of the stream of coldness or turn the dial back up. Your once pleasant adventure of serenity now has left you shivering.

Here’s my cold wake up call this morning. It’s from 1 John 2:6 (CEV)…
“If we say we are His, we must follow the example of Christ.”

That’s pretty bold… Pretty clear. As a matter of fact, crystal clear.

Let’s put it another way… If you claim to be a Christian – you should be acting like Jesus.

But… What does that mean?

Well… Jesus loved everyone. And truly loved them. He cared about whether or not they were sick, He put their needs first. He went out of His way to help. He taught them. He cared if they understood Him or not. He gave up what He wanted on many occasions to help other people.

He healed the sick because He trusted fully in the Father. Not that He couldn’t heal, but He, being man, allowed God to fully work through Him. Why? To be an example.

He didn’t get angry at people for the selfish ways they acted. He was selfless and calm. Put together. In control of His emotions, His anger, His lust, His pride. He controlled Himself. He wasn’t controlled by His flesh. And that’s only a small sample of the way He lived His life.

And I can honestly tell you – that I’m not fully capable of any of these. I mess these up on a daily basis. I avoid, I ignore, I push back, I get angry, I get even, I yell. I’m not anything like Jesus. Talk about a cold wake up call!

But I’m trying. And that’s where the difference is. He encourages us to be as much like Him as we possibly can – and He makes a way for us to do that… but when we fail, which we have, and will, then He doesn’t immediately banish us to hell. He comforts us and picks us up and dusts us off and then says, “We’ll try again tomorrow.”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: If you stopped trying, let Him pick you up, dust you off, and allow you to start trying again. It’s a new day.

Father,
I don’t always live my life like Jesus. Sometimes I don’t even try. Forgive me. Wash me and clean me. Holy Spirit, walk with me each moment of the day and help me live like my Savior. Jesus, in Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

February 20th, 2017 – Devote

I read a story of a circus ringmaster who had a standing offer that he was the strongest man in town. He offered a $1000 to anyone who could squeeze the last drop out of a lemon. The ringmaster would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass and hand the lemon rind to a contender. Anyone who could squeeze just one drop of juice would get the thousand dollars. Well, everyone would come up and try it. There were cowboys, bodybuilders, ironworkers, farmers, baseball players, wrestlers, you name it. No one could get another drop out of the lemon.

One day a thin, balding, little man came in wearing wire rim glasses. He spoke in a faint squeaky voice; “I can squeeze your lemon.”

Everyone started laughing. The master of ceremonies said, “OK.” He grabbed a lemon, and without even cutting a hole in it started squeezing. Squish, lemon juice ran out into a glass. He handed the wrinkled remains of the lemon over to the little man. He grabbed hold of the lemon remains, as the hysterical laughter faded away. One, two, three big drops of lemon juice plunged into the glass.

The silence turned to hysterical cheers. The ringmaster handed over the money. Then he asked, “How in the world did you do that?” A thousand men have been in here and they couldn’t get a drop out of a lemon. “What in the world do you do for a living?” “Nothing to it,” he said. “I do it every day. I am the treasurer at my church!”

In his letters to the church at Corinth the apostle Paul was encouraging them, along with other Gentile churches, to help by giving financial support to believers at the Jerusalem church. They were going through extremely difficult times financially because of the persecution from the Jews living in Jerusalem. They had been socially ostracized and excommunicated from the synagogues because they believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Their businesses failed because nobody would buy from them any longer.

Paul encouraged these Christians to help with this great need in Jerusalem by putting aside a gift for the Jerusalem fund. The amount of the gift depended on how God provided for them during that week.

The church in Corinth practiced giving while living in poverty. True giving isn’t measured by the size of the gift but by the spirit of the giver. The Corinthian Christians experienced great joy as they provided money for the ministry of Paul. They grew in God’s grace and were exceedingly blessed because they gave themselves to the Lord first and then gave of their resources to support the Lord’s church.

The church practiced the mathematics of Jesus: poverty + joy = true wealth. That’s what Paul wrote…
“You know that our Lord Jesus Christ was kind enough to give up all His riches and become poor, so that you could become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 CEV

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: “It doesn’t matter how much you have. What matters is how much you are willing to give from what you have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12 CEV

Father,
You gave us Your very best in Your Son, Jesus. Help us to give our very best back to You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

February 13th, 2017 Devote

I remember been inquisitive one day and trying to figure out how many promises of God were in the Bible. Let me just say… good thing for the internet! I found a number of different responses, but the general consensus was, there are over three thousand promises God has made to us. These promises range from health, to peace, to prosperity, freedom, finances, family concerns and security.

So that you know, many of these promises were given in the Old Testament based upon a formula most of us are very familiar with: “If” we keep the commands of the Lord — “then” He will solve our problems, do amazing things, and take complete care of us. For example: Deuteronomy 11:22-23: “Love the LORD your God and obey all the laws and teachings that I’m giving you today. If you live the way the LORD wants, (then) He will help you take the land. And even though the nations there are more powerful than you, the LORD will force them to leave when you attack” (CEV)

We totally get this because it’s how we’ve learned to function: “If we do this, then we’ll receive that.” The problem is we know that we don’t always love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we don’t always walk in His ways, and we don’t always hold fast to Him. With this kind of thinking in place we know, when we don’t do the “ifs” we can’t expect the “thens”.

However, as I was reading my Bible this morning I came across a passage in which a man by the name of Paul tells us, God already has done the “if” part through His Son Christ Jesus. And He’s given us the Holy Spirit so we can be absolutely certain of His guarantee. Read this…

“Christ says ‘Yes’ to all of God’s promises. That’s why we have Christ to say ‘Amen’ for us to the glory of God. And so God makes it possible for you and us to stand firmly together with Christ. God is also the one who chose us, and put His Spirit in our hearts to show that we belong only to Him.” 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 CEV

So, Deuteronomy 11:22 now says: “Jesus kept all these commands I gave you to follow — He loved the Lord His God, He walked in obedience to Him, He held fast to Him.” So by God’s grace and for His glory — no matter how weak, foolish and undeserving we are — when we opened our heart to Jesus, He placed us in Christ and all His promises became “Yes” and “Amen.”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: We’re no longer “If,” “Then” people! In Christ, live as “Yes” and “Amen” people.

Father,
Thank You for Your promises that are still for today. And thank You that in our Savior, Jesus, each and every one of them is “Yes” and “Amen.” Jesus in Your glorious name we pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

2017 Message From National Lutheran Secretariat – President

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Happy New Year!  Well, 2016 is over.  For some this may be a blessing and for others they will look back at a year that brought much joy. As we consider 2017, many have hope for a better year. Author Rick Page, states in his book Hope is Not A Strategy, that hope, along with faith and love, are essential to life. As you look back at 2016, I’m sure you can find moments when you were successful and when you failed. Failure can be a great learning experience, one that leads to future success, but only if there is reflection on what went wrong, and how it might have been done differently and more successfully.eeor

When I look back at 2016, I see many areas in my life where I had success and many areas where I failed. When I examine my failures, I try not to look at things through the eyes of the old Winnie the Pooh character, Eeyore.   Eeyore, always saw things in the negative light, never had hope or faith in anything greater than himself.

As men and women of faith, we have hope that God is with us. Through prayer we know that God will provide us with all we need, regardless of our circumstances. As its stated in Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

We must lean on our faith to seek God’s greater plan for our lives.  When we are aligned with God’s plan we may find our lives to be less stressful, less worrisome and thus we’re able to live with the excitement and energy of the Winnie the Pooh character, Tigger. So, let’s commit our lives to be more align with what God is calling us to do, to live with hope for a better tomorrow, whiling knowing through our faith that God’s plan is always sufficient.

In closing, please know that this NLS Board is here to serve you. So, if you find that your Secretariat is struggling and doesn’t see hope for tomorrow, please reach out to us and let us help. We have many resources to help you build, strengthen, and grow your community.

 

 

God loves you and so do I,

Your brothers in Christ,

Steve Gielda

National Lutheran Secretariat – President

February 6th, 2017

I hope this doesn’t step on anybodies toes (or maybe I do), but I always liked it when people told me their faith was a personal matter. You know, they didn’t openly talk about it so as not to make anybody, including themselves, feel anxious. I guess it was always from that unwritten rule that you don’t talk about money, politics or religion. Well, to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t necessarily like talking about religion either. But I love talking about my Jesus and what He’s done for me and what He’ll do for anyone else.

I thought of that today as I was reading Exodus 13. It’s here that Moses told the people about telling the generations to come what God did for them. Essential to passing on the faith, in the community of faith, was the personal testimony of rescue. A father was to pass on the faith to his son by telling him – not just what the LORD did for Israel, but what the LORD did for him personally. (Exodus 13:8-9, 14 CEV)

If you were to read Exodus 13, you might notice some of the elements of that personal testimony:

1. The LORD did for me what I couldn’t do for myself. I was in bondage, and I couldn’t work or buy my way out. The LORD redeemed me.

2. The LORD set me free. I had been a slave, but by the strength of His hand He cut me loose.

3. The LORD consecrated me to Himself. I celebrate each year by eating this bread without yeast. It reminds me that I am different because the LORD chose to rescue me – to take me out of Egypt.

4. The LORD taught me how to share my faith with you. He instructed me to pass on my faith in Him because He wants to rescue you too.

Not much has changed over the millenia, has it? God is still counting on us telling the next generations His saving grace through His Son, Jesus.

He was us to tell them how we were in bondage to sin and couldn’t pay our own debt.

He wants us to tell them how we were slaves to sin and couldn’t free ourselves.

He wants us to tell them why we celebrate at His table and how each time we eat the bread and drink the cup we tell about His death until He returns.

He want us to tell them to pass the same story on to the next generation.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t let His Story end with you! Tell someone, everyone, what He has done for you! Be a friend… Make a friend… Bring a friend to Christ!

Father,
Thank you for the testimony of faith that we have because of You rescued us, You saved us, You set us free. Remind us when we have opportunities to share this faith with others. For Jesus’ glory and name, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen