March 27th, 2017 – Devote

Have you ever stopped to think about the number “one”? I guess it all depends on the situation and the circumstances, but one can either have negative consequences or positive consequences.

For example… it’s not necessarily good if there’s only one piece of cake left and there are two or more people. For some, being alone, only one, is lonely. Or, when you stop at a garage sale and realize you only one dollar in your wallet.

But on the other hand, if you’re watching March Madness, the NCAA Basketball tournament, there’ll come a time here in short order that the winner of it all will tell us that they’re number one – they’re the best, the only undefeated team, the top. Or when you’ve had your To-Do list and you’ve whittled it down to just one last thing. Maybe you’re trying to lose some weight and you just have one more pound to lose to reach your goal.

Jesus, talked about the number one. He talked about us, you and me, being one. Here’s what He said…
“I want all of them to be one with each other…. I also want them to be one with Us.” John 17:21 CEV

At first, we don’t see that as a problem. But have you ever tried to get a group of people to all move in the same direction, at the same time? One of my friends directs the Dance Team at her High School. I think of how difficult that’s got to be – to try to get every dancer to step, jump, twirl all at the precise time. If everybody just went out on the dance floor and decided to do what each one of them wanted to do, it’d be chaotic. It would just be a team of people, doing their own thing, with no rhyme or reason. Sound familiar?

Most often, the reason we have difficulty with the “one” concept is because we don’t want to lose our individuality. We’re important. We don’t want to just be another pretty face in a massive crowd. We want to be recognized. If we melted and molded ourselves into the oneness factor, we would lose all that.

But Jesus tells us that the oneness factor is important… very important. Here’s why…
“Then this world’s people will know that You sent Me.” John 17:23 CEV

Our oneness, sends a message to the world. Our oneness, like that dance team, tells the world we’re in this together and we’re going to work together, play together, worship together. You can’t be the Lone Ranger, a pie in the sky, or an island in an ocean. We’re meant to be together and be one… one in Jesus and one with each other.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: You and I, as brothers and sisters in Christ, have a message to tell the world. When we’re one, the world will hear what we’re trying to tell them.

Father,
Make us one. One with You and one with each other so the world may know You. In Jesus name we ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

March 20th, 2017 – Devote

I remember watching a video that someone put up on Facebook about sheep and their Master. If I remember correctly there was a missions team that went over to some European country to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

While there, they were taught a lesson I’m sure most will not forget. This whole team, young and old alike, were out walking the countryside when they encountered a flock of sheep. The shepherd was close by watching his sheep. The team wanted to find out if what Jesus said about sheep, knowing their shepherd’s voice, was true. So they struck up a conversation with the shepherd, asking for his assistance to conduct a little experiment.

Since the Country they were in did not speak English they were forced to learn a foreign word or two which the shepherd used to command the sheep’s attention. One by one, these missionaries went up to the fence to call the sheep in. But as each one came up to the fence and in their most persuasive voice tried to win the sheep over, they were met with complete resistance. Totally ignored. The sheep didn’t even bother lifting their heads to acknowledge they heard a voice.

Finally, when everyone who wanted to, unsuccessfully attempted to motivate the sheep to follow them, the shepherd stepped up to the fence and gave them the same command as he always did. Every head popped up. Every sheep came to attention. Every sheep started moving towards the voice they knew. It happened exactly as Jesus had said…
“My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow Me… “ John 10:27CEV

Even as I watched that video, I was awestruck. The sheep were never tempted to follow a voice they had never heard before. It wasn’t even an option. There was no temptation so alluring that the sheep would give up their grazing or resting to find out what the unknown voice had to offer.

You have opportunity to hear that voice all the time. As you spend time in the Word, God speaks to you. As you enter His house for worship, God speaks to you. In your prayer closet, God speaks to you. You should know His voice. You’ve heard it multiple times.

But can I tell you, there are still many sheep out there who have never heard their Shepherd’s voice. They hear all kinds of voices in this world. Voices that are trying to rob their joy, kill their faith, and destroy their life.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Christ is counting on you! Since you know His voice, keep following. But next time you run into a sheep who doesn’t know which voice to follow in life, introduce them to Jesus. He is the great Shepherd. Be a friend. Make a friend. Bring a friend to Christ!

Father,
Help me recognize Your voice more each day. Help me help others in hearing Your voice in their life as well. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

March 13th, 2017 Devote

I’m pretty sure you’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat’. I remember seeing a picture somewhere of a guy who was made up of all kinds of different foods. If I remember correctly, it had something to do with the four major food groups.

He had cauliflower as a head, broccoli as lungs, sausages as arms and legs and cheese as his teeth. Every part of his body was made up by using a particular food.

You’ve got to know, this man was very healthy and the picture was encouraging us to eat in a similar way, so that we could be healthy too.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure my food body would be quite so healthy! How many of my body parts can actually be made from chocolate?

The explanation, however, is a good one. The food we place into our bodies correlates with how healthy we are and the energy we have.

Now, while there’s a great deal of focus these days on what we put into our bodies through our mouths, I don’t think there’s enough priority placed on what we put into our bodies through our minds.

We’re taught that if we put trash into our mouths then we’ll be unhealthy, but we also need to realize that if we put trash into our minds then our minds will be unhealthy. That will flow into our relationships, our work, our families and certainly into our faith.

The Old Testament speaks often about the idols that people let into their lives and the destruction that they brought. Read this…
“Everyone who makes idols and all who trust them will end up as helpless as their idols.” Psalm 135:18 CEV

I think that there are still many idols in our world today that look appealing, and yet, bring destruction and separation from Jesus.

While we all have food delicacies that we indulge in every now and again, we also have other treats in our lives that we like to enjoy. Often, when kept in check, these treats are fine, but if we overindulge then they can take over and cause us to be unhealthy.

I’m not referring to things like pornography, gambling, or abuses. These are clearly no-go zones as far as I’m concerned. But there are other things that we like to indulge in that, if taken too far, lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Overspending, not prioritizing family, slacking off at work… We all have times and seasons in our lives, but if we allow our little splurges to become a lifestyle then things can get ugly.

Yes, our physical bodies are important to care for, but our mental and spiritual selves are also in need of health and protection.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: You are what you eat, so look out for what keeps coming up on the menu.

Father,
Help me to understand that what goes into my mind affects me as much as what goes into my body when I eat. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

March 6th, 2017 – Devote

The more years I spend in the ministry, the more I notice the liberties we as Christians take with our God. It seems we’re always looking for something new that will really attract us to Him. I’m not suggesting we even do this deliberately or intentional. We’re just so used to creating what we want, even God. We’ll even change the Word of God if necessarily.

But if we really had ears to hear and minds that perceived, we would begin to see how we regulate God down to our level. We create Him in the image we desire. Yes, yes, yes… He’s God, but He’s our friend, our buddy, our pal, the big Guy in the sky. We design Him in a fashion that suits us and one that we best can understand and like. We’re pretty bold in stating “I think God is like…” You finish the sentence!

But if you read Psalm 99, you get a much different picture of God – I believe a more realistic picture of God. God honored His chosen people by taking up residence among them, making His presence known by sitting on His throne in the tabernacle. “You rule from Your throne above the winged creatures…” (99:1) signifing His presence at the Ark of the Covenant, now brought to the City of David.

Even though He may take up residence among His people, we must never forget that He is GOD ALMIGHTY! The psalm writer tell us, we are to exalt Him… we are to hold Him in high esteem… we are to recognize that He is greater than all. We are to worship Him… to kneel at His feet… to bow at His throne… to fall on our faces when we come into His presence. Why? BECAUSE HE ALONE IS HOLY. He is set apart from all others, because He is the One True God. I know in our world today that is considered a bold statement considering that we’re challenged to be accepting of all religions. But there is only one true God.

Yes, now that we are baptized into Christ Jesus, we too are made holy, like He is. But it’s His holiness imparted to us, not anything of our own making.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Spend some time today contemplating the holiness of God. In a notebook or journal, write out ways in which the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is uniquely different and set apart from any other being in the universe. Then thank Him for imparting His holiness to you and stop molding Him in an image you like.

Father,
We acknowledge that You are God and God alone. There has never been any like You and never will be. Only You are God. Help us to know You, see You and understand You as You’ve revealed Yourself to us, not as we have designed You to be. In Jesus name we ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen