Mat 17th — DEVOTE

Remember the time as you were growing up  you did something you were afraid to tell your parents? You were certain there was no way they would ever forgive you. You had hoped everything would just go away or you wished you could relive the disaster and make it all better. But it didn’t matter how much you wished to change the indiscretion, it wasn’t going away.

When your parents found out, they were mad, but they stilled called you their child. They still fed you and kept you under their roof. Over time, all was forgiven and forgotten. But there was a time you didn’t know if that was going to happen.

Let me ask you… Have you felt like that with God? You know, you did something so bad you thought there was no way He would ever forgive you – you could never be a part of His family again. I do remember pleading with God for His forgiveness over some awful things I did.

I thought of that as I was reading 1 Samuel 12. The Israelites had pretty much just told God, He wasn’t good enough to be their leader. The judges and the prophets God used to take care of them weren’t good enough either. Instead, they wanted a king. Of course God was angry. He even explained to them all the bad stuff that was going to happen to them because they chose a man, a little king, to rule over them instead of God, the King of kings.

The Israelites became afraid and asked the prophet Samuel to pray for them so they wouldn’t die for their sin of demanding a king. Samuel prayed and then told them this…
“Even though what you did was wrong, you don’t need to be afraid… God will always take care of you so that everyone will know how great He is.” 1 Samuel 12:20a, 22b CEV

Please notice God didn’t tell them their sin didn’t matter. But also notice He didn’t kick them to the curb. What He did tell them was even though they had made a world of mess, He would always take care of them.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: We all know somebody (might even be you) who has sinned in a way that they feel as though they can never make it right again. They’ve blown it and there’s no way they can be forgiven – by God or by others. That’s just not true and they need to hear it… they need to experience it… they need to live. Today, if you or someone you know thinks their sin is so great that God could no longer accept them, tell them the truth. God always forgives! Always!

Father,
Thank You for forgiving me and reassuring me that I’m still part of Your family. Thank You, Jesus for make that all possible by dying for my sins. It’s in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 16th, 2017 — DEVOTE

I’m wondering if your mother ever said anything like this to you… “So, if your friend jumped off a bridge, would you too?” That was the question I got when my mom asked me why I did one of the many stupid things I did, and I told her it was because one of my friends did it. Her point was a real one – why do you want to be like everyone else or do what everyone else is doing, especially when it’s not even a good idea and it only leads to trouble?

It’s a common problem. Just take a look at the world around you. The clothes we wear is based upon the common trend. Skinny jeans, skin tight clothes, flip-flops are all common place these days. Our hair design – remember the days of beehives, the bob, the bowl cut or even a mullet? Who thought those were good ideas and why don’t we see them anymore? I remember almost 20 years ago when I started shaving my head, being one of only a handful that had a shaved head. Today, I’m one of many chrome domes. What about home design or the cars we drive? We do many things in life based upon what somebody else is doing.

This really isn’t anything new. It’s been going on for millenias. God’s own people did it. Samuel was a great leader for the Israelites. When he was old his two sons kind of took over his leadership, but they weren’t like their dad. They were greedy, dishonest and unfair. So the people revolted. They told Samuel they wanted a new leader, and as a matter of fact, they wanted a king.

But there were a couple of problems with their request. First, it was a shot a Samuel and him not training his sons to lead properly. Samuel took it personal. When he went to talk to God about it, God told him not to take it personal because it wasn’t him they were rejecting, but they were rejecting God because He really was their king. The other problem was why they wanted a king. Here’s what they told Samuel…
“We want to be like other nations. We want a king to rule and lead us in battle.” 1 Samuel 8:20 CEV

In other words… we want to be like everyone else.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: God created you to live in community with everyone else, but He created you as an original. You are a masterpiece in His eyes. You are of great worth and value not because you try to be like everyone else, but because the blood of Jesus Christ has set you apart from everyone else. Just be you – the real you. Not the you you think the world wants to see. The you God created you to be.

Father,

Thank You for loving me just the way I am, but not leaving me just the way I am. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 15th, 2017 — DEVOTE

I’ve said this many times before, but most Christian people either don’t like what I say or how I say it. They feel it’s too blunt, too harsh. To some, they feel it’s disrespectful. But, I can most certainly tell you, I mean no disrespect in the slightest manner.

I’m referring to our God and Him constantly talking to us. If I were to be honest with you, I think God is a chatterbox. There, I publicly said it. I think God is a chatterbox. He’s always talking. Always encouraging us. Always directing us. Always speaking hope and life into us. He never stops.

The real problem is not God always talking to us – the real problem is: we’re not listening. We have no clue what God’s voice sounds like. Or if we are listening, we can’t hear it above all the noise surrounding our life.

I rethought that whole issue again this morning as I read 1 Samuel 3. Read this verse…
“In those days, the LORD hardly ever spoke directly to people…” 1 Samuel 3:2 CEV

If you keep reading in that chapter you’ll read all about God calling a young boy by the name of Samuel. Verse 7 tells us that Samuel didn’t recognize the voice. But the moment he answered the call, his life would never be the same again.

So, you can’t hear His voice? Not sure why not. Jesus, our Good Shepherd said in reference to the shepherd and the sheep, “The sheep know their shepherd’s voice.” John 10:3 CEV

The Bible says, “In many and various ways, God spoke to the people of old by the prophets. But now in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. Hebrews 1:1

Jesus said, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:9

God has never stopped speaking – we’ve stopped listening. I don’t believe God will ever yell at us. It’s not as if He’s going to start shouting above all the noise that’s congesting our life. He’s just speaking to us – maybe even in a small whisper. He’ll speak to you through His life-giving Word. He’ll speak to you as you worship and glorify Him. He’ll speak to You as you pray, as you walk, even as you sleep, reminding you – you are the apple of His eye.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Find that place of quietness… shut the door… and listen. Listen for His powerful voice, assuring and reassuring you that He will be with you always, even to the end of time. He’ll speak to you through His Spirit. Hear Him whisper in your ear how much He loves you and will keep every promise made to you. Learn to recognize His voice – and your life will never be same!

Father,
I’m listening. I want to hear Your voice speaking into my life. Please tell me again what You need me to know. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 12th, 2017 — DEVOTE

So my very good friend, Pastor Carl, told me a joke the other day that relates to what I read in my Bible reading this morning. I hope I can tell it right, it goes something like this…

There’s this man pondering the deep questions of life, the universe, his own personal problems. And since he couldn’t find any answers on his own he decided to ask God for some help.

“Dear God” the man began to pray.                                                                  God responded immediately, “What is it my son?”                                              “I have a few questions I’d like to ask. Do You mind?”                                    “Go right ahead, my son… ask Me anything,” God said.                                  So the man proceeded… “God, how long is forever?”                                   God said, “To Me, forever is like a second. “Wow!” The man responded. Then he asked another question… “God, what’s a million dollars like to You?”       God said, “A million dollars to Me is like a penny.                                       Again the man was in awe. Then he lifted up his head and asked one final question… “God, can I have a penny?”                                                              To which God responded, “Give me a second!”

Funny, but thought provoking. Here’s the Bible passage… 
“Dear friends, don’t forget that for the Lord one day is the same as a thousand years, and a thousand years is the same as one day. The Lord isn’t slow about keeping His promises, as some people think He is. In fact, God is patient, because He wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.” 2 Peter 3:8-9 CEV

God is so enormous, so awesome. But let’s face it… there are times we’ve prayed, and unlike our friend in the joke, we didn’t get an answer – at least not an immediate response. Sometimes it seemed like it took forever and other times we’ve felt like we never got an answer.

But Peter tells us that God is not restricted to our timing. God has no time, if You can imagine that. And, let this rattle in your brain for a moment… If God has no time, then He’s got all the time in the world for you and me. Does that make sense to you?

Let me say it another way… remember the time you were totally occupied doing something and your child asked you for help and you responded, “Give me a minute!” You said that because of time. You were restricted by time. But God has no time, so you’ll never hear Him say, “Just a minute!”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Since God has no time – He always has time for you. He’ll always be there, even when you don’t recognize His presence. Even when you’re so busy, He’ll remain. God is never too early – God is never too late. He’s always right on time!

Father,
Thank You for keeping Your promises. Thank You for always being on time in my life. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 10th, 2017 — Devote

When our children were small, a couple of them had difficulty in making decisions. It was almost like the end of the world had come when they were faced with deciding what they wanted to eat, or what they wanted to wear, or which TV program they wanted to watch.

So I implemented a new rule. I would give them two choices and only two choices, but they had to pick one of them. “Do you want Cheerios or Rice Chex? Do you want the pink outfit or the blue one? Do you want to watch SpongeBob or Ducktales?” One way or another I was going to help them make a decision. They only got two choices and very little time to decide and they had to make a decision.

Sometimes there were tears because the decision was just too difficult. Sometimes when the two options weren’t in their liking there were even some tantrums, which didn’t move me. I was bent on getting a decision made so we could move on to the next thing.

Here’s where I’m going with this. What I did with my children is pretty much the same thing we do with God. We go to Him in prayer and we give Him our options for what we want.

We don’t literally say this out loud, but our prayers could be interpreted like this… “Dear God, here are your two choices. Please pick one and make it happen for me. Get er done!”

That came to mind as I read this in the Bible this morning…
“You are my God. Show me what You want me to do, and let Your gentle Spirit lead me in the right path.” Psalm 143:10 CEV

Please notice the writer didn’t say, “Let me show You what I want done…” Many times our prayers sound like, “God, here are my options. So tell me which one you want – and just so you know let me tell You which one I want.” Somehow we’ve lost the concept of making our request known to God and then asking Him what He has in mind for our lives.

I do know that our Father loves hearing our idea and our plans – though at time I believe they give Him a bit of a chuckle. The problem comes in when we move from sharing to demanding that our great God choose from our options.

Part of that is due to our lack of understanding that He’s God and we’re not. Part of that is also due to our thinking we’re entitled to talk to God that way. And part of that is due to us not believing that He knows what’s best for us.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: As you pray, pray without a decision… pray without an agenda… pray without your will overriding His will. Pray like the psalm writer… “Show me what You want me to do…” And then… Do it!

Father,
Show me what You want me to do, and let Your gentle Spirit lead me in the right path. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 9th, 2017 — DEVOTE

Have you ever made a promise and then broke it? You remember, maybe it was a time of desperation and you needed money or you needed a car, and then after all was said and done, you went back on your promise?

I thought of that today as I read the word and had to ask myself if I’ve ever done that. I wanted to take it a bit further than the surface and ask myself, if I’ve ever made a promise to God and then reneged on it. It probably went something like this, “Dear God, I promise, if You do this… I’ll do that. Rescue me! Save me!” Maybe it was when someone was really sick, or you were out of money. Then when things changed in your life, you conveniently forgot all about the agreement you made with God. That might be oversimplified, but hopefully you get the picture. You went back on your word!

That’s where my mind went as I read a heartbreaking account in the Word of God. It’s a true story about a man named Jephthah. The Bible tells us that Jephthah was a brave warrior, but even with that, he was forced to leave his homeland because he was the son of a prostitute. All his half-brothers told him he really wasn’t a part of the family, so they forced him out.

When war broke out, those who had forced him to leave, recognized they needed his strength and leadership to win the battle, so they convinced him to come back home and be their leader. He did and entered into some conversations with the opposing king to try to not go to war. The opposing king would have nothing to do with it and the battle was on.

Jephthah went throughout the land and raised up an army. It was then he made his unforgettable promise to God…
“If you will let me defeat the Ammonites and come home safely, I will sacrifice to you whoever comes out to meet me first.” Judges 11:30-31

Well, the Lord helped Jephthah defeat the enemy and on his way home, who would be first to come out to meet him? His beloved daughter. His first reaction was devastation. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He was going to need to keep his promise and sacrifice his daughter. This wasn’t a literal sacrifice, like burning her on a altar. But she would never get married and never have children, which back then was horrific. It broke his heart… but he kept his promise!

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Keep your promises, especially those you made to God. It’s so easy to go back on our word, break a promise. But remember, God has never, ever broken a promise with you and He never will! Be a man of God, be a woman of God, like Jephthah and keep your promises.

Father,
Help me keep my promises, especially those I’ve made to You. In Jesus’ powerful name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 8th, 2017 — DEVOTE

Who rules you? Maybe it’s your spouse, or a boss, or even a domineering friend. Whoever it might be, let me share some thoughts with you today about putting God back in His rightful place in your life.

Here’s the Bible verse that triggered these thoughts…
“The leaders of Shechem, including the priest and the military officers, met at the tree next to the sacred rock in Shechem to crown Abimelech king.” Judges 9:6 CEV

To totally understand this we need to revisit the last part of Judges 8. Remember Gideon? He was the valiant warrior God rose up to deliver Israel from her enemies. But at the end of his life, he went back to worshipping idols. He totally forgot all the great things God had done for him and through him.

When the people wanted Gideon to be their king, so they could be like all the other nations around them, Gideon refused, reminding the people that God was already their king. But, just because Gideon didn’t have the title of king, Gideon served as a king would and all the people looked to Gideon rather than focusing on God. And though, because of Gideon’s character, their misplaced authority seemed to work for a time, but everything would start to unravel once Gideon died and his son Abimelech took over

Abimelech didn’t have the character his father did, but won over the hearts of the town leaders, who made him king. But in order to be king, he needed to kill all his brothers and there were seventy of them. And the sad thing is: the people were willing to follow, which quickly led to everyone’s destruction.

I can think of three truths in Judges 9 that would be good for us to learn and remember.  

  1. When God is not the Ruler of our lives, a void of authority will exist in our life. God must come first and foremost in our lives, but many times we don’t allow Him to rule and instead open ourselves to someone or something else taking over.

  2. When that kind of void of authority exists, someone or something unqualified will try to fill it. Whenever there’s a vacuum, a cavity of unused space within your heart and mind, it will be filled with something – whether good or bad is up to you.

  3. Whenever we allow someone or something unqualified to rule us, destruction will soon follow. It won’t be long before we’ll find ourselves wondering how we got in the mess we did and how we’re going to get out of it.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Keep your priorities! Keep God first! Jesus said, “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

Father,

Help me to focus and concentrate on You today.     Holy Spirit, fill my life with Your presence and joy. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 5th, 2017 – DEVOTE

God is an indestructible force. He needs no one. God is the ultimate, superior potency. His power has no end. God is the overwhelming enforcement, controlling everything, to the minutest detail. How’s that for starting our devotion?

You too are a force to be reckoned with. Not to the same extent as God, but nonetheless, your potential is more than you probably give credit to. Your gifts and set of skills and abilities make you a positively, not a probability. You have great value and worth in the kingdom of God, more than you probably even use.

So it makes me begin to think of what things could be like and could be done, if you and I were to mix our realized potential with God’s, to do the things He’s asked us to do. What might we be able to accomplish? What might we be able to see and experience?

Why am I thinking like this? Well as I was reading the Book of Judges today, I came to chapter 4. For 20 years the Israelites were being harassed by the king of Hazor. There’s a lady from Israel by the name of Deborah, who is a prophetess, who gets of word from the Lord to give to a leader in Israel, his name is Barak. She tells him that He’s supposed to gather the army and go to war against Hazor, and that God will give him the victory.

Barak doesn’t know his potential. So he cowers under the pressure and tells her he’ll go only if she goes. Let’s see… she’s a prophetess… he’s got a whole army… and he wants her to go to battle. What is she, like the token good luck charm?

Anyway, she tells him she’ll go, but because he didn’t realize his potential, a woman was going to defeat the enemy.

Now, here’s where it gets good. The Commander of the enemy army is Sisera. As the Israelites are winning the battle, General Sisera makes his escape. He tries to hide out at a ladies house… her name is Jael. He wants a drink of water, so she gives him a cup of nice warm milk. He lays down to take a nap because he’s so exhausted. Jael even covers him up with a blanket, so as to hide him from anybody hot on his trail. While he’s sound asleep, she takes this big old tent peg and a hammer and drives it through his head and kills him.

Now I’m not advocating murder, but there was a big difference between Barak and Jael. Barak had no clue the power he and God could make, while Jael knew she couldn’t lose because God and her made a tremendous team.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: God is on your side and if you know that and believe that – what might you accomplish for Him today?

Father,
Today is a great day – simple because You made it. Help me realize what I’m able to accomplish because You’re on my side. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 4th, 2017 — DEVOTE

You probably know this story, but I’m going to bring it out from the archives of my memory because as I was reading the Word this morning, it came back to me.

Henry was a painter and often he would thin his paint so as to make it go further. So when the Church decided to take care of some long over-do maintenance and asked Henry to put in a bid. Because of his practice of watering down his paint, he was able to put in the low bid, and got the job. As always, he thinned his paint way down with turpentine.

One day while he was up on the scaffolding — the job almost finished — he heard a horrendous clap of thunder, and the sky opened.

The downpour washed all the thinned paint off the church and knocked Henry right off his scaffold and onto the lawn among the gravestones and puddles of thinned and worthless paint.

Henry knew this was a warning from the Almighty, so he got on his knees and cried: “Oh, God! Forgive me! What should I do?”

And from the thunder, a mighty voice said: “REPAINT! REPAINT! AND THIN NO MORE!”

I know… it’s old. But you have to admit you got a little chuckle out of it. Well, that’s what I thought of as I started reading the book of Judges. Here’s what I read…
“After a while the people of Joshua’s generation died, and the next generation did not know the LORD or any of the things He had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10 CEV

When Moses lead the people of Israel, they worshipped God. When Joshua lead the people of Israel, they worshipped God. Now after Joshua died and as time went on, they stopped worshipping God. And as the next generation came, they didn’t even know God. From generation to generation, God just faded away.

We see the same thing in church today – this watering down effect. Let’s just take worshipping on Sunday. You’ve had a horrendous week. It’s taken it’s toll on you, so come Sunday morning, you just decide God will understand and you’ll just sleep in. Sound familiar? No one will miss you and what’s the big deal of missing one time?

Well, you know where this is going, don’t you? I grew up in a time when unless you were on your deathbed, you didn’t miss worshipping on Sunday morning. What we’ve discovered about Christians today is: worshipping once a month is now the new norm. You know where this one’s going to, don’t you?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Thin no more! Doesn’t matter if it’s Sunday morning worship, personal Bible Study, Small Group, Prayer… Bottom line – “the Israelites stopped worshipping the LORD.” What’s our next generation going to do?

Father,
Start with me. Help me to be a worshipper, a prayer, a constant learner of You. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 3rd, 2017 — DEVOTE

During the many years of my ministry, I’ve had the opportunity to give numerous Bibles to people. I remember one time, one of our older saintly ladies at my first congregation, died, and her family wanted to know if I’d take all her old Bibles. I thought having an extra Bible or two in my possession would be a good thing. So I agreed. But to my surprise they brought me a whole box of Bibles that she had collected, like for her entire lifetime. Most were in really good condition.

I thanked them for their generosity and of thinking of me to receive these treasures, but I have to tell you, deep down in my heart I started wondering what I was ever going to do with all of those Bibles.

It was then the Lord started putting people in my life that needed a Bible and before I knew it, all my Bibles were gone. I had given them all away. I then started wondering how God was going to give me the next shipment of Bibles to distribute.

There was one other common factor that went with all these Bibles. In each and every one of them I wrote the same thing on the inside page. I don’t remember where or when I first heard it, but it’s truth stuck with me and I wanted it to stick with the person who received the Bible from me. Even as I still gives Bibles away today, I still write the same thing:

“This Book will keep you for sin” OR “Sin will keep you from this Book.”

Even today, it still touches me deep down inside. I’ve come to know that in order to lead a successful Christian life, I’ve got to spend time with the Author and Perfector of my life. I’ve got to consume it like I would food for my physical body.

Here’s just the truth… The more I know God’s Word and what it says, the more I’m aware of what He wants and desires from me. The more aware I am of what He wants and desires from me, the less likely I am to stray for His commands. The less I’m in His Word, the less I know of what He wants and desires from me, the more like I am to stray from His commands.

The person who wrote Psalm 119 stresses this many times throughout these verses. He even says…
“Your word is my only hope.” Psalm 119:114 CEV

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Are you looking for hope in your life. There’s only one place to find it – in His Word. Remember: “This Book will keep you from sin” OR “Sin will keep you from this Book.”

Father,
Help me to treasure the precious gift of Your Word above everything else. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen