April 28th, 2017

How easy is it to misunderstand someone these days? I don’t know if you ever done this, but I sure have. I got an email from someone, and as I read it, I started inflecting my own thoughts and attitudes. The way I read it wasn’t even close to the way it was written, but because of my limited perception, or bad attitude, or misgivings about the person who wrote it – I totally misunderstood what they were saying.

Or, let’s flip the coin for a moment – remember the time you sent somebody a note (email, text, instagram, snapchat) and then couldn’t figure out why that same person wouldn’t talk to you. Then you found out how they interpreted your words, only to then find out they totally misunderstood what you were saying. Then you had to back everything up and try to explain what you were really trying to say.

It’s very easy to get caught in a tangled mess when we misunderstand, or are misunderstood. Sometimes, long standing relationships are damaged, almost unrepairable, due to misunderstanding.

Here’s why that came to mind. My reading this morning was from the book of Joshua. In Joshua 22, the 2½ tribes of Israel that got land on the east side of the Jordan River, having completed their task of helping everybody else get their land, are now able to go home. Before they left they built an altar on the west side of the Jordan River. Well everybody on the west side made the assumption that those on the east side were going off on their own and doing their own thing, which would bring God’s wrath down on the whole nation. The west side gang were ready to kill them all. But before they did they sent a delegation to find out the truth.

What they found out was totally different than what they thought. Here’s what the east siders told them…
“No, we built the altar to remind us and you and the generations to come that we will worship the LORD… It’s here to remind us and you that we belong to the LORD, just as much as you do.” Joshua 22:27, 29 CEV

Whoa! Talk about a close call. The west siders were ready to totally annihilate the east siders because of something that wasn’t true. How many times have we done that? How close have we gotten to obliterating a relationship because of a misunderstanding?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: There’s no “them” and “us.” There’s only “us.” We need to stand with each other – not against each other. This is what the Bible says, “Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17-18 CEV

Father,
I have been misunderstood and have misunderstood. Forgive me for jumping to conclusions that have separated me and others. Jesus in Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

April 27th, 2017 — DEVOTE

Waiting can be one of the most excruciating times in one’s life. I hate waiting. When I need to varnish something, I just want the varnish to dry so I can sand it and varnish it again, so to get it done.

I hate waiting in line. Have you ever been in the store and the cashiers lines were all backed up and then they opened another lane? You thought to yourself, “should I go?” or “I’m so close… should I stay?” And then remember the time you made the decision to do one or the other, but, yah, it was the wrong decision?

When I order something online, I just want it to come immediately. I hate reading that it’s going to take two weeks for delivery. By that time, I’ve already forgot I ordered it! Can you imagine my surprise when it comes.

I guess a person who has difficulty waiting would probably be called impatient. In our impatience we want fast results, quick actions, split decisions. It reminds me of the saying, “Let’s run it up the old flagpole and see if God salutes.” But if God isn’t fast enough in answering our request we’re very quick at bringing the flag back down from the old flagpole and handle it ourselves. What we’d say, “Taking matters into our own hands.” It’s really a case of impatience.

I thought of my impatience today as I read my Bible. Here’s the verse that jolted me…
“The LORD had told the people to give Joshua whatever town he wanted.” Joshua 19:50 CEV

Let me explain. God had told Joshua to divide up all the Promised Land for the remaining tribes of Israel. When Joshua was all done there was nothing left. He gave it all away.

That’s so contrary to what we generally do. If given the opportunity, we’d probably pick what we wanted first and then divvy up the rest. But not Joshua. He did what God told him to do – give out the land. And then without any seeming expectations, when everything was all gone, he never asked, “What about me? What do I get?” It wasn’t until God stepped in that Joshua received what was promised to him by God and he received his portion last.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Impatience is really all about me. Impatience is self-centered, self-motivated, and self-important. But the problem with impatience is, it doesn’t leave any room for God. As a matter of fact it pushes Him out of the way and I’m not sure either one of us really wants to do that.

Humbly wait on God. Be patient! He’s still in control and still provides your daily bread! He’s never too early and He’s never too late. And He’s never impatient with us!

Father,
Forgive me for my impatience with You and others. Holy Spirit, help me to patiently wait on You, Your prompting… Your leading. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

April 26th, 2017 — DEVOTE

Can I ask you somthing? What are you waiting for? All of us are waiting for something. Maybe you’re waiting for a baby or grandchild to be born. Maybe you’re waiting for that upcoming vacation. Maybe you’re waiting for your house to sell. Maybe you’re waiting for that package to come in the mail. Maybe you’re waiting for your wedding day to come. Maybe you’re waiting for your loved one to die. Just think about it for a moment and you’ll find that you’re probably waiting for something.

However, the last thing you and I ever want to do is live in the land of “almost.” “Almost” doesn’t even sound like a good word. You can’t almost hit a homerun. You can’t almost pass the test. You can’t almost get the job. But most of us are content with “almost.” At least it’s better than nothing, right?

I share that with you because of what Joshua said to seven of the tribes of Israel who didn’t settle in the Promised Land. Oh, they were there, but they did nothing to secure the land and make it their own like God had promised. Here’s what Joshua said…
“But the rest of you haven’t done a thing to take over the land… now it's time to go ahead and settle there” Joshua 18:6 CEV

Joshua never got stuck in the land of "almost." If you quickly scan the book of Joshua, you'll see repeated phrases like "Joshua conquered," "Joshua slaughtered," "Joshua traveled," "Joshua built," "Joshua continued."

Talk about a list of active verbs! What a picture of someone moving forward! In only seven years, Joshua defeated 31 kings!

So why wouldn’t these tribes want to possess their land? Why would Joshua need to prod them? Probably because these are people who hadn’t lived in permanent dwellings for more than a generation, and they were afraid of something new, even if it was good. They didn’t fulfil what God had called them to do.

The truth is, the temptation to stay in the land of "almost" was great for some of the tribes. Partial victory is better than no victory at all, right?

Wrong! In the land of "almost" several enemies are always at your borders:

1) Lack. You're not walking in the full provision of God. You can pay your bills, but there’s never anything left over.

2) Fear. You don't trust God fully. If you truly obeyed him, the risk is too great.

3) Sin. You learn to be comfortable living with your enemy. You let sin take root in your home and expose your children to this danger.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Ask yourself… Is there something I’m afraid to move into today? What is God calling me to? And then respond. Put one foot in front of the other and start walking it out. You weren’t meant to live in the land of “Almost.”

Father,
Today I have one simple request; please don’t allow me to rob myself of Your best. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

April 25th, 2017 –DEVOTE

In some areas of my life, I’m stingy – very stingy. Let me see if I can elaborate to help you understand. I some areas I would consider myself chintzy… tightfisted… curmudgeonly… sparing. Hopefully that helps you. If not let me elaborate some more.

When our family goes out to eat, everybody else wants to know what everybody is ordering so that they all order different things and then they share each other’s meal. How weird is that?

I, on the other hand, withhold my order until it’s time to share it and I generally don’t share my meal, nor do I want anybody else’s meal. I want mine. It’s why I ordered what I ordered. My family thinks I’m a little weird, miserly and selfish when it comes to this aspect of life.

Another area of my life that I reservedly use is, applauding – you know.. Clapping your hands. I’m not talking about giving someone a compliment. I freely give words of affirmation for a job well done. I like to encourage people for using their gifts to better my life. But I’m talking about the physical act of slapping our two hands together to magnify another person’s effort. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a good performance or skill, it’s just that I try to keep my adulation for One – God. I figure if anybody deserves to be applauded it would have to be our great God. And most often we as the church don’t ever applaud Him. We applaud everything else, but we seem to think it’s almost irreligious to give God our praise by clapping our hands.

Maybe, the problem is, we don’t know how to show appreciation for all that He’s done for us. However, we don’t seem to have a problem showing that same appreciation and excitement and enthusiam for the works of man. I just think it’s a little backwards, so I mainly only clap my hands for my Savior God.

The reason this little outburst came out is because of what I read in the Word this morning. Here it is…
“Don’t eat too much honey or always want praise.” Proverbs 25:27 CEV

It says in Proverbs 25:16 – “Eating too much honey can make you sick.” If that’s true, “always wanting praise,” can do the same. “Always wanting praise” will make you reliant on the verbiage of others and make you sick. Maybe not physically, but emotionally and mentally because we become so reliant on having to hear how good we are.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Know that you and I play to the audience of One – Jesus. He is the One who watches over us day and night. He is always speaking His love and truth to us. He is always telling us how much He loves us and desires to be near us. Let His praise of you, suffice your daily needs.

Father,
Help me find satisfaction in You and offer You my applause. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

April 24th 2017 –DEVOTE

It’s so easy to read the Bible and only pull out of it what we want or what seems pertinent to our life at the moment. But the truth is, there is so much wealth to be extrapolated from the Word of God that we should feel like some of the richest people in the world to get to read it. Let me explain.

Today I was reading Joshua 14. In this chapter an 85 year old man by the name of Caleb, comes to Joshua to retell his story and after all these years, claim what is rightfully his. You see, when Caleb and Joshua were 40 years old, they were sent with 10 other men to spy out this Promised Land. You’ll remember that Joshua and Caleb were the only two spies who came back with a positive report – all the others said the giants in the land were too big and the city walls were too high and too thick. They gave a negative report and all the people lost heart. That’s why the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Lack of faith.

Now as Joshua is distributing the land to the tribes of Israel as God directs him, Caleb claims the promise God gave to him 45 years ago saying…
“… I promise that the places where you went as a spy will belong to you and your descendants forever.” Joshua 14:9 CEV

Talk about holding on to a promise of God!

But what I want to talk with you about is the land that Caleb chose. 3500 years ago, Caleb chose the land of Hebron. Today, Hebron is the center of controversy. Hebron is the oldest Jewish community in the world founded by Abraham some 4000 years ago (Genesis 13)

Today, there are about 1000 Jews living in Hebron with 150,000 Palestinians (descendents of Esau) surrounding them and many of those Palestinians are self-proclaimed Islamic terrorist.

Hebron is the second most sacred piece of real estate in the world for the Jewish people – Jerusalem being first. Hebron was purchased by Abraham as a burial site (Genesis 23) and paid for in cash.

There is a great Jewish heritage in Hebron from the past, but the present situation is very controversial and will continue to be until Jesus returns to deal with the enemies of the Jewish people.

But why do I tell you all of that? Because it’s good for us to reflect on the past, remembering the promises of God, as we look to the future.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t ever forget God’s promises to you. Keep them. Cherish them, like Caleb. God is not slow in fulfilling the promises He made to you. Doesn’t matter if it was 45 years ago. Maybe He’s just waiting for you to get in the right place.

Father,
Thank You for Your promises to us. We’re especially thankful for the promise of a Savior, Your Son, our Lord – Jesus, who freely gave His life in our place. It’s in His name we pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

April 21st, 2017 — DEVOTE

So I’ve been talking about living as Resurrection people this whole week, considering we just celebrated Easter last Sunday (seems like a long time ago already, doesn’t it?) It’s so easy to forget. It’s so easy to get sucked back into life’s routine and in doing so forget that we are victorious people because of the death and Resurrection of Jesus.

What generally happens is, we’re overwhelmed by life’s situations. We’re inundated with so much information our brain goes on overload. We’re crushed by the weight of our frustrations and overpowered by our lack of Resurrection living.

But today I’m going to tell you to “POINT YOUR SWORD.” That’s right, “POINT YOUR SWORD.” Let me tell you why I say that.

In Joshua 7, God had told Joshua to capture Jericho, kill all the inhabitants, with the exception of Rahab and her family, AND not keep any plunder – and if anyone does, the whole nation will be punished. Well, one man did. His name was Achan. Achan kept some loot and hid it in his tent.

The next city to conquer was a little drop in the bucket called, Ai. Joshua only sent 3000 men because it shouldn’t have been a problem. But because of Achan’s deceit, which God knew, Israel lost the battle and 36 men died. Through a long process Achan is found out and he and his family are stoned to death.

Now, because of the last defeat and the soldiers uncertainty, God gave to Joshua a strategic plan to capture Ai. This time he went with 30,000 of his best soldiers. During the night, about 5000 of them were to hide on the west side of the town. Joshua and his men would show themselves the next day and draw the military of Ai out to chase them. When the Ai soldiers were far enough away from town, Joshua would give the signal and those who were hiding would go into the unprotected city of Ai and destroy it. What was the signal. God told Joshua…
“Point your sword at the town of Ai, because now I am going to help you defeat it.” Joshua 8:18 CEV

Then the Word says…
“Joshua kept his sword pointed at the town of Ai until every last one of Ai’s twelve thousand people was dead.” Joshua 8:25-26 CEV

What should be take from this? The enemy is always there. He needs to be defeated. Jesus Christ has given us the victory. Our enemy is already defeated and knows it. Oh, he knows he’s won and battle or two against us before. But not this time. This time we’re going to raise our sword, no matter how tired, or how frustrated, or how beaten. We know we’re in for a fight, but we should also know that we can’t lose.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: I don’t know what your Ai is and I don’t know how many times you’ve been beaten. But today, POINT YOUR SWORD, in Jesus name. And then when the enemy gets in your face and tells you to quit, you get your faith on and get in his face, and tell him, “I didn’t come here to lose today!”

Father,
Thank You for being our Leader! In Jesus name, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM MARXHAUSEN

April 20th, 2017 — DEVOTE

Have you ever wondered why God tells us all the things written in the Bible? I mean, are we just supposed to read the accounts of the Israelites as history and that’s it? Or could there be more to it than that? Do the accounts we read of great victories over the enemy hold directions for us to follow that will unlock the prison doors that keep us bound. Let me see if I can explain.

Joshua and all the Israelites have crossed the Jordan River and they are now in a position to attack Jericho and capture it, just like God told them. However, there’s a problem. This city of Jericho is surrounded by a huge wall. The town gates are bolted shut. As a matter of fact we’re told the king of Jericho made a decree that no one could come in and no one could leave. Jericho is on lockdown. This place is seemingly impenetrable.

But God gave Joshua a strategy. Walk around the city wall for six days. The order went like this: some soldiers… then the priest carrying the Ark of the Covenant (the presence of God), then the rest of the soldiers, which might have been around 100,000.

Now here’s the kicker. These were their marching orders…
“Don’t shout the battle cry or yell or even talk until the day I tell you to.” Joshua 6:8 CEV

They did that for six days. Then on the seventh day they marched around the city the way they had done the previous six days, only on the seventh day they marched around the city seven times. The seventh time on the seventh day, when the priests blew their trumpets all the soldiers were to shout. The Bible tells us…
“… the soldiers shouted as loud as they could. The walls of Jericho fell flat.” Joshua 6:20 CEV

There you have it – God’s strategy for bringing down the enemy’s strongholds. You see, most often we see what we’re facing and we’re defeated before we even start. We figure there’s no way to overcome. The walls are impenetrable. Or we attack head on, wasting all kinds of time, energy and resources.

But God has a strategy for us. We can overcome the enemy. We can bring down the walls that keep us jailed. We can take back what is rightfully ours as a child of the King. We weren’t meant for failure here. We weren’t meant to be overcome, but to be overcomers.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: I don’t know what wall is keeping you from your destination, but why not walk around it for the next six days. Don’t say a word. Then on the seventh day, walk around it seven times and yell to the highest heavens and watch your wall come crumbling down. Let me tell you again… When the enemy gets in your face and tells you to quit, get your faith on and get in his face and tell him, “I didn’t come here today to lose.”

Father,
Help me bring the walls down. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

April 19th, 2017 – DEVOTE

I told you yesterday I started reading the book of Joshua. I also told you how much I love this book. It’s full of action and every time I read it, I get Holy Spirit energized. It so speaks to our life today and the great God we have. Why we’d settle for less in life, doesn’t make sense to me. But I’ve come to realize once again, how easy it is to just start coasting through life, or becoming melancholy about our mission here. Believe it or not, it’s very easy to become lukewarm. A lot easier than we think. Let me explain.

God told Joshua to get the people of Israel ready to cross the Jordan River and enter into the land He had promised their forefathers. This was all new territory. They had never been here before. They had seen and experienced many first time things while wandering in the wilderness for those 40 years, but not like this.

When the day and moment arrived, the priest went first. They carried the Ark of the Covenant, which represented the presence of God, into the middle of the Jordan River, which, believe it or not, made the River stop flowing, and it was at flood stage. They stood in the middle of the River while all the Israelites crossed the River and got to the other side.

While the River was backed up, one man from each of the Twelve tribes picked up a large boulder and carried it with him to the other side. There they were to build a monument to remind them of the great things God had done.

After they built the monument, Joshua told everyone that when their children asked what the monument was all about, they were to tell them how God dried up the Jordan River just like He did the Red Sea. Then Joshua adds this…
“… because He (God) wants everyone on earth to know how powerful He is. And He want us to worship Him only.” Joshua 4:24 CEV

See what I mean? It’s so easy for us to lose sight of what we’re doing here. We’ve forgotten our mission (Go make disciples…) and are stranded somewhere. We were meant to cross the river and take our rightful place. Why? Because God wants everyone to know Him! But instead, we think life is about the job, the recreation, the time-off, the promotion, retirement. None of those things are bad, but remember Jesus said,
“But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what He wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.” Matthew 6:33 CEV

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: If you’re going nowhere right now, it just might be that your priorities are a bit mixed up. You get the the other side by putting God first. He’ll take care of the rest. And when the enemy gets in your face and tell you to quit, you get your faith on and get in his face and tell him, “I didn’t come here today to lose.”

Father,

Help me get my priorities right so the world will know You. In Jesus’ name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

April 18th, 2017 – DEVOTE

So, it’s now two days after Resurrection Day. Has it all wore off already? I mean, you went back to work or your daily routine and pretty much everything was just the way you left it, right? You had the same struggles with your co-worker who gets on your nerves… you had the same grinding job of cleaning up the mess everyone left at your house… you had the same thing you always had just a different day. But it’s only been two days since the Resurrection. How can this be? How is it that we so easily forget we live in victory, not defeat?

I thought of that as I started reading the Book of Joshua this morning. I love this book of the Bible. It’s full of action and suspense. Here’s what we know… Moses is dead and now Joshua has taken his place. God tells Joshua to cross the Jordan River and capture Jericho. Before that happens, Joshua sends two spies into Jericho to check it out. While there, they meet a lady of the night, a prostitute. Her name is Rahab. She plays a huge role in this whole story. She tells the two Israelite spies that…
“Everyone shakes in fear because of you…” Joshua 2:9 CEV

Then she tells them, they’ve heard all the stories of how great God was in delivering them from Egyptian slavery and how He lead them 40 years in the wilderness. You can tell, she is awestruck by God’s power. Then she strikes a deal with these two spies – she’ll help them if they save her and her family. The rest is history that you’ll need to read for yourself.

But here is the clinching line. When the spies get back to Joshua, this is what they say…
“The people there shake with fear every time they think of us.” Joshua 2:24CEV

So my question is… why doesn’t that happen anymore? I don’t mean people should be physically afraid of us… but most people don’t even know we’re Christians and on top of that, Resurrection Christians. Why is it that the power of the Resurrection doesn’t live on in us every day. Why is it that our co-worker doesn’t know the joy within our heart? Why is it that our neighbor doesn’t know who we are and what we believe?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: We are God’s own people… We are chosen by Him… We carry His name… We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Why would we settle for anything less? I’ll tell you again, when the enemy gets in your face and wants you to quit, get your faith on, and get in his face and let him know, “I didn’t come here to lose today!” I believe and live the Resurrection.

Father,
Through the power of your Spirit within me, help me to live the victory that is mine because of the Resurrection. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

April 17th, 2017 – Devote

So, this what we refer to as Easter Monday. It’s the day after the grand celebration of Jesus resurrection. Yesterday was a powerful day in the life of each Christian. I pray you took it all in and you yourself checked out the empty tomb for yourself, not just got the news second hand. So, what’s changed? Anything? Are you living higher than yesterday or are you right back to where you were on Friday? Are you excited about living this resurrected, powerful life, or are you totally wore out from all the activities of the weekend?

Those thoughts pounded my mind as I read the last chapter of Deuteronomy, chapter 34. In this last chapter, Moses dies. The great prophet, deliverer, leader, breathes his last. Before he dies, God allows him to climb the highest peak of a mountain, at the age of 120 no less, to see all the land God promised to the people of Israel. It’s then God says to Moses…
“‘I have let you see it, but you will not cross the Jordan and go in.’ And so, Moses the LORD’s servant died there in Moab, just as the LORD had said.” Deuteronomy 34:4-5 CEV

Of course my first thought is, “How unfair!” Moses slipped up one time and because of that wasn’t allowed to take the last step with these people after 40 years. For 40 years, these people were a thorn in his backside, always complaining and griping, and he doesn’t even get to finish the journey.  But, interestingly, you don’t hear Moses complaining. It’s as if he fine with it – actually more than fine with it – he’s ready for it. He welcomes its.

That’s what I would call living a resurrected life. Moses knew that it didn’t matter how long he prolonged the long walk up the mountain, it wasn’t going to change the situation. He knew that once he got to the top, the ultimate in life was going to happen, and it wasn’t about him dying. The ultimate in life was knowing he was going to start really living. Living in the presence of God forever. Living with the One he spent huge amounts of time with, but never all the time. Now he would never be separated from the Lover of his soul. Never again would he have to stand in the cloud and just listen to the Voice. Now he would be face-to-face with His Maker, forever.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: It’s so easy to give up, get tired, be frustrated, lose hope. But I’m here today to tell you – Jesus is alive. Live like it! When the enemy wants you to quit, get your faith on – look at him square in the eye and tell him, “I’m not here to lose today!” Because He lives, I can face tomorrow!

Father,
Thank You for life – life now and life forever. I’m free in Jesus name and now I want to live like it. Jesus, in Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen