Easter Morning Blessing

 

The resurrection of Jesus has given each of us new life and renewed hope.

We ask for help to live as new people in pursuit of the Christian ideal.

Lord, grant us wisdom to know what we must do—-

the will to want to do it

the courage to undertake it

the perseverance to continue to do it

and the strength to complete it.

The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God – in His ultimate triumph and in His goodness and love – which nothing can shake.

 

May your joy and hope and strength rise with the SON and the sun this morning!

 

March 30th, 2018 — IGNITE


Do you remember how I started this week of devotions asking what you would do if you only had one week to live? What would you have planned… where would you have gone… who would you have seen? Just so you know… you’re week is up! Today is the day. Today would be the day you die. Are you ready? Jesus was.

Thursday and Friday of Jesus last week were one continuous movement. Going from the Upper Room where He washed the disciples feet and instituted the Last Supper, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and was betrayed by Judas and arrested by the religious leaders. Sometime in the late night hours Jesus arrived at the religious leaders courtroom where He was put on trial. Who ever heard of a courtroom convening at midnight?

All through the night Jesus is accused and slandered. There is no time to sleep, get a drink, take a potty break.

Very early in the morning, after Peter has denied Jesus three times, the rooster crows. False witnesses are brought in and lie about Jesus. All the condemnation is heaped on Jesus, all night long. He bears it all.

The religious leaders have condemned Him, but they need authority from the government to do what they want, so they take Jesus to Pilate early in the morning. Pilate pushes Jesus off on Herod. Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate has Jesus whipped viciously to try to appease the people, but they don’t budge. Pilate tells the people to do what they want to do but he’d washed his hands of any guilt because in his eyes Jesus was innocent.

The soldiers beat on Jesus some more and have a great time belittling Him. He’s made to carry His own death devise – the cross. He takes it outside the city as thousands of people watch and jeer and laugh, as He struggles under its weight. He’s nailed to it. They secure it in the ground so He’s high above so everyone can see Him. He’s left to die on it.

For around six hours He battles with life and death… the constant criticism of the people, even those dying on the crosses next to His… the jarring, racking pain in trying to suspend Himself and breathe… keeping His right mind and complete the mission His Father sent Him for.

And then He died!

Little did anyone realize on this day of Passover, that in the temple, the lamb was slain, sacrificed for the sin of the people. Even today many will not see the Lamb of God slain to pay for the sins of the world – from all time… to all time.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Remember! Remember His last week. Remember His last day. Remember His last breath! You won’t find Him in the empty tomb if you never see Him dying on the cross!

Father,

As I stand in front of the cross today, tell me again why it happened. Jesus, thank You for giving Your life for mine. It is in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

March 29th, 2018 — IGNITE

It’s Thursday of Holy Week. This is literally the day that never ends for Jesus. What Jesus and the disciples did during the day is not recorded, but come late afternoon – evening everything starts to rock and roll.

Let me see if I can give you a play by play to catch you up till the evening meal…

  1. Jesus sent some of the disciples ahead of all the rest to find the place they would celebrate the Passover meal (Matthew 26:17-20, Mark 14:12-17, Luke 22:7-14).

  2. It’s at this passover meal the disciples have a squabble with each other as to “who is the greatest” amongst them? (John 22:24-30)

  3. Jesus then gets down in front of them and washes their feet – all of them – Peter who at first refused and even Judas. (John 13:1-20)

  4. As they’re sitting around the table, all four of the Gospels tell us Jesus informed them, one of them was going to betray Him. They all question Him as to who it would be? Can you actually imagine eating a meal knowing someone around the table was going to turn you in? (Matthew 26:21-25, Mark 14:18-21, Luke 22:21-23, John 13:21-30)

  5. Then Jesus takes the bread and the cup and institutes His Last Supper – including the denier – Peter, and the betrayer – Judas. (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:15-20)

  6. Then Judas leaves to go do His dirty work (John 13:32)

  7. Jesus gives to the disciples a new commandment about loving each other. Once again, can you imagine talking about loving each other when you know hate personified just left the room and is waiting outside for you? (John 13:31-35)

  8. All four gospels record Jesus predicting Peter would deny Jesus – much to his disapproval of such an atrocity (Matthew 26:31-35, Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-38, John 13:36-38)

  9. Then they sang a hymn and left the upper room for the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26)

  10. It’s here in Gethsemane that we find Jesus praying (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:26-42, Luke 22:39-46)

  11. Judas comes with the soldiers and Jesus is betrayed, arrested and forsaken (Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:2-12)

Just another day in the life of Jesus right? Wrong! This day was only going to get worse. This day was going to lead right into the next day and continue its downward spiral. When we read this we generally lose all sense of time and think it all happened very quickly. But time is distributed exactly the same then as it is now. This took hours to enfold. Makes you feel a little uneasy when you think of it that way, right?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: I know you’re probably busy. You have a lot on your plate… things to do… people to meet… places to go. But sometime today, stop and contemplate Jesus having you on His mind while He endured all this. He did this for you. He did this for me. Thank God for His great provision.

Father
Help me keep walking with Jesus today. Now’s not the time to stop. It’s in His name I ask this, Amen

Rev. MM Marxhausen

March 28th, 2018 — IGNITE

For most people Wednesday is a good day. They refer to it as “Hump day,” because it’s in the middle of the week. Once you’re over the hump, it’s all downhill until the weekend. If they can just get through this day they mentally have the edge.

But have you ever looked at Wednesday through the eyes of Jesus. Wednesday is certainly in the middle of the week and it’s most certainly all downhill from here, if you know what I mean! Once Wednesday is over, Jesus will only have a short time left.

Wednesday is a rather quiet day for Jesus. He’s at the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. The events recorded are at night, so we’re not so sure as to what Jesus did during the day. What would you do if you knew you were going to die two days later?

On this day, Jesus was invited to Simon the Leper’s house for the evening meal. Simon is the father of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. This is actually a celebration for the raising of Lazarus from the dead. There were a number of people who started believing in Jesus because of the resurrection.

As they’re sitting and talking before the meal is served, a woman walked into the house with an Alabaster box full of expensive perfume and anointed Jesus with it to the total indignation and verbalization of some of the disciples. Judas asked why the perfume was wasted like that because it could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus tells everyone that she has just prophetically prepared Him for burial.

It is right after this little spectacle that Judas got up and left the house, probably with a chip on his shoulder for being targeted for his response. He’s headed to the religious leaders to betray Jesus. It’s as if he couldn’t take it anymore. Something snapped in him and He was on the move – going to do what he said he was going to do.

Here’s something for you to think about:

  1. We know Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha.

  2. We also know Judas’ father was Simon.

  3. Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ father was Simon the Leper. What if Simon and Simon the Leper were the same person.

  4. Could it be that Simon the Leper is Simon the father of Judas.

  5. If that’s true Mary and Martha are sisters to Lazarus and Judas.

All of a sudden the parable of the Prodigal Son makes sense doesn’t it? The father said his son was dead and now was alive – was this celebration and Jesus’ rebuke what threw Judas over the edge?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: It’s so easy to focus our attention on ourselves and what we like and what we don’t like. It’s so easy to be so busy that we miss the events of the day, or in this case the events of our Savior’s life. Yes, it’s Wednesday – hump day – but for Jesus, the days to come will end it all! Where will you be?

Father,
This is the day You’ve made. I want to follow Jesus to the end. It’s in His name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

March 27th, 2018–IGNITE

Remember the day that you thought would never end? It went on and on and just about the time you finished whatever it was you were doing, you realized you had one more chore to do before you could call it a day. That’s what the life of Jesus must have felt like on the Tuesday of His last week. There is more recorded about this day than any other day, with the possible exception of Friday and the crucifixion.

Tuesday started out with Jesus and the disciples returning to Jerusalem from Bethany, just like Monday. As they are all walking into Jerusalem they once again walk past the fig tree that Jesus cursed and see that it truly is all withered and dead. Jesus once again talks about the fig tree and what it signifies.

When they finally get to the temple, Jesus is bombarded by the religious leaders about the cleansing Jesus did yesterday and who gave Him the right to do that? The reason they were questioning Him was not because they were so spiritual or really cared, but because they lost a lot of money yesterday in selling sacrifices. Jesus brings up John the Baptist, but not because He is trying to dodge the issue at hand, but since they didn’t listen to John why would they question Jesus’ authority.

Jesus then uses the opportunity to confront His critics with a question about Christ, which totally baffles them. What follows is three parables, the parable of which son did their father’s will… one about a vineyard and then another about a wedding banquet… showing them that God was going to destroy the temple because of their wickedness. He ended it all with a stinging criticism of the religious leaders. That pretty much ended His public ministry, so to speak. After this the focus turns from the public ministry, to Jesus focusing His attention on His disciples.

An interesting thing happens as Jesus is leaving the temple. Before He actually steps out one last time, He sits down for a moment, like He wants to take it all in. He then sees the widow throwing her last mite into the collection plate. That’s how He leaves the temple.

He then takes the disciples to the Mount of Olives and talks about the days of Noah… tells a parable about ten virgins… tells another about a man traveling into a far away country… and ends it with a parable about sheep and goats. This whole discussion was to warn the disciples about the events which would come down on Jerusalem.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: That might seem like a lot of information about a day in the life of Jesus that wasn’t so nice. But remember, this is His last week. If you had only one week to live would you spend it like this? He did. He did it for you and for me. He did it to open our eyes to see Him as the Passover Lamb slain for the world and to open our ears to hear the truth. He invested in you all He had. That’s what mattered to Him. You’re the reason He did it.

Father,
Keep my heart, mind, soul and spirit focused today, not on myself, but on my Savior. Jesus in Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

March 26th, 2018 — IGNITE

Have you ever heard anyone ask the question… “If you knew you only had one year to live, what would you do?” Our mind races to think of all the things we would try to fit into our lives before we left this world. The places we would go… the people we would see… the things we would do!

But what if we only had one week left? Kind of a depressing thought, isn’t it? To think that at the end of this week we would die. But that’s exactly what Jesus knew as He entered this week. He knew that by weeks end He would be nailed to the cross for all humanity and die.

So what did He do with His last week? In our devotions this week, I’ll try to give you a day to day recap of all that He fit into His last week.

Yesterday was a blur. It was a grand celebration as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people shouted, “Hosanna.” That was the first day of the week. And then came Monday. On His way back into Jerusalem from the town of Bethany, where He stayed with HIs friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, He was hungry and saw a fig tree. However the tree had no fruit on it. So Jesus cursed the fig tree.

Have you ever asked yourself why Jesus was even hungry? Was it because Mary and Martha were such bad host they didn’t make Him breakfast? Or might it have been Jesus knew what He was walking into? When you’re stressed, what do you do? Jesus was hungry, giving us a clue as to what He knew was coming.

It was then while in Jerusalem Jesus went into the temple and cleansed it. This was the second time He did that. The first time was when He started His ministry three years ago. Because the Law of Moses permitted the selling of animals in the temple for sacrifices, Jesus wasn’t objecting that, but the way it was being done. Instead of being a help to their kinsman from out of town, they were jacking the prices up and making a huge profit, therefore making a joke out of the sacrifice. The truth was, He was the ultimate sacrifice.

That same day, after the dust had settled in the temple, the Bible tells us there were some Greeks in the temple that wanted to talk to Jesus. This is what they said to Philip…
“We wish to see Jesus.” John 12:21

Don’t know if you’ve ever seen that before. These men were Greeks, Gentiles, not Jews, and they wanted to see Jesus. The Jewish leaders were seeking too, but were seeking how they might destroy Him, because, “they feared Him.” (Mark 11:18) These Gentiles wanted to see Him, hear Him, and know Him.

That was Monday. Jesus then walked back to Mary and Martha’s house in Bethany, probably to prepare for the next day. Now there are only four days left before He’d die.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Walk with Jesus this week. Feel the pressure. Experience the pain. Sense the tension. This is the last week – live it with Him.

Father,

Help me focus this week on my Savior and His last days. Jesus in Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

March 23rd, 2018 — IGNITE

Palm Sunday is happening this Sunday and Holy Week and Resurrection Day are right around the corner. There’s going to be a celebration, though not like a birthday party or a family reunion, but a celebration of life. And then what?

You’ll probably get all dressed up and the kids or the grandkids will get all dressed up in those nice spring colors and then what?

You’ll probably color some hard boiled eggs and maybe have an Easter egg hunt and cook a great big meal for the family and then what?

You’ll probably have an awesome experience with big worship and a powerful Easter message and then what?

You’ll hear those seven last words of Jesus on the cross… you’ll hear about the beat down He received… you’ll hear about them mocking Him and spitting on Him… you’ll hear about nails being pounded through His hands and feet… you’ll hear about them giving Him some sour wine and how they took Him down from the cross and buried Him in a borrowed tomb, because He didn’t have one of His own. You’ll hear all that and then what?

Will you get all dressed up and be in worship the next Sunday? Will you explain to the kids that eggs and rabbits really don’t have any significance at all to the real reason for Resurrection Sunday?

Sometime along the way here, this Gospel message has got to get real. It got real for the soldiers the day they crucified Jesus. It was all fun and games for them beating on Him and making a spectacle of Him. Wasn’t that just fun! But when He was on the cross, and the sky grew dark, and when He breathed His last, and earth groaned with an earthquake, they snapped to attention immediately and said out loud, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:54

Oh yeah, everything got real right then! There was no more hooting and hollering – no more sarcastic remarks and joking around. No, this got serious real quick. They sobered up right now.

Our baskets might be filled with candy but I’ve got to tell you, there was nothing sweet about what Jesus went through. It’s not about the nice clothes and all the accessories. All Jesus had was a crown of thorns. It’s not about the colored eggs or the candy or the ham. All Jesus had was some bad wine.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: I purposefully did this message early so that you had time to reflect and prepare to be a part of the greatest story ever told. Get your hearts and minds wrapped around what is about to happen again. Don’t miss it. Get real with it and keep it real. Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man, came to this earth… walked where we walked… died a wicked death undeservingly for you and for me… and rose again. It’s very real!

Father,
Help me prepare myself to live the story. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

March 22nd, 2018 — IGNITE

Palm Sunday is happening this Sunday and Holy Week and Resurrection Day are right around the corner. There’s going to be a celebration, though not like a birthday party or a family reunion, but a celebration of life. And then what?

You’ll probably get all dressed up and the kids or the grandkids will get all dressed up in those nice spring colors and then what?

You’ll probably color some hard boiled eggs and maybe have an Easter egg hunt and cook a great big meal for the family and then what?

You’ll probably have an awesome experience with big worship and a powerful Easter message and then what?

You’ll hear those seven last words of Jesus on the cross… you’ll hear about the beat down He received… you’ll hear about them mocking Him and spitting on Him… you’ll hear about nails being pounded through His hands and feet… you’ll hear about them giving Him some sour wine and how they took Him down from the cross and buried Him in a borrowed tomb, because He didn’t have one of His own. You’ll hear all that and then what?

Will you get all dressed up and be in worship the next Sunday? Will you explain to the kids that eggs and rabbits really don’t have any significance at all to the real reason for Resurrection Sunday?

Sometime along the way here, this Gospel message has got to get real. It got real for the soldiers the day they crucified Jesus. It was all fun and games for them beating on Him and making a spectacle of Him. Wasn’t that just fun! But when He was on the cross, and the sky grew dark, and when He breathed His last, and earth groaned with an earthquake, they snapped to attention immediately and said out loud, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:54

Oh yeah, everything got real right then! There was no more hooting and hollering – no more sarcastic remarks and joking around. No, this got serious real quick. They sobered up right now.

Our baskets might be filled with candy but I’ve got to tell you, there was nothing sweet about what Jesus went through. It’s not about the nice clothes and all the accessories. All Jesus had was a crown of thorns. It’s not about the colored eggs or the candy or the ham. All Jesus had was some bad wine.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: I purposefully did this message early so that you had time to reflect and prepare to be a part of the greatest story ever told. Get your hearts and minds wrapped around what is about to happen again. Don’t miss it. Get real with it and keep it real. Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man, came to this earth… walked where we walked… died a wicked death undeservingly for you and for me… and rose again. It’s very real!

Father,
Help me prepare myself to live the story. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

March 21st, 2018 — IGNITE

When you really start reading the betrayal of Jesus… Jesus before the religious leaders… Jesus questioned by Pilate… if you’re anything like me, you start thinking, “Does anybody else see how crazy this seems? It really happened… it’s all true… but it’s almost surreal. It’s like living a bad-dream. Here’s why I say that…
“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him.” Matthew 27:27

What’s the big deal about that? It’s outlandish! It’s total overkill. The whole cohort was called together. Oh, so maybe I need to explain a little further.

In the Roman world, according to the Historian, Josephus, there was what was called a Roman Legion. This legion of soldiers was made up of 5,500 – 6,000 men. These were all professional men who signed on for terms lasting 25 years. Within each Legion there was what was called a Cohort. These cohorts were not of equal size but ranged in numbers from as many as 800 to as small as 500.

After Jesus was questioned by Pilate and he finally acquiesced to the demands of the people to crucify Jesus, the governors soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium, or the governors place, and the whole cohort was brought in. That would be anywhere from 500-800 professional soldiers. How many men does it take to stand guard over one man?

These men stripped Jesus naked, humiliating Him, and placed a red robe on Him. They weaved a crown from a thorn bush and crammed it on His head, making sure it stayed. They put a stick in His hand to be used as a symbol of rulership. They even jokingly, arrogantly and disrespectfully knelt down in front of Jesus and laughingly called Him a king. This mob mentality permeated through these professional soldiers who were groomed to be savages.

They spit on Him, then they took the stick away from Him and used it to beat Him. And after all the fun and games, when it was no longer any more fun, they took off the red robe, put His own clothes back on Him, and led Him out to be crucified.

How can one man, be such a threat to all these soldiers? Is He that much of a menace to society? Is He that intimidating?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Next week is Holy Week and once again we’ll have the opportunity to live the life of our Savior all over again. We will hear of the betrayal and denial. We will witness the insanity of it all. We will walk to the hill outside of the city and pound the nails into His hands and feet. We will watch Him hang in agony, while the crowd shouts and jeers malicious things at Him while He hangs there defenselessly. I pray He doesn’t intimidate you! I pray He comforts you… assures you… with His love and grace. “By His stripes we are healed!”

Father,
Take me to the cross. Jesus in Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

March 20th, 2018 — IGNITE

Can I just tell you, I know what I would have done. Probably could tell you what you would have done too – you would have defended yourself! That’s exactly what I would have done and still do – defend myself. Maybe it’s a natural defense mechanism built into us or maybe it’s out of pride we do it. But the truth is when someone accuses us of something, rightfully so or totally wrong, we defend ourselves.

While I’m reading the whole account of Jesus betrayal and trial, I noticed something – everybody has a voice, but Jesus. He doesn’t say a word. That’s exactly what the Bible tells us…

“… while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer.” Matthew 27:12
“And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so that the governor was quite amazed.” Matthew 27:14

That governor was a man by the name of Pilate. Pilate didn’t like to deal with trouble, though it was part of his job. So when Jesus was brought to him, he found himself in a precarious position. On the one hand he couldn’t find any of the accusations about Jesus to be true. As a matter of fact, if you were to read this same account in the Gospel of Luke, you’d hear Pilate say three times, “I can’t find any crime committed by Him.”

But on the other hand, the chief priest persuaded the crowd to demand the release of a true criminal named Barabbas, and have Jesus crucified. Talk about extreme demands.

Pilate wasn’t stupid though. He knew these religious leaders brought Jesus to him because they were envious of how people were attracted to Him. But he also knew there was the strong possibility of a riot breaking out in his city, and he didn’t want that and couldn’t afford that to happen. All the while, Jesus stood there, listening to the hate… the lies… the injustice… never saying word to defend Himself.

Today, we live in a time where truth is twisted and confused. Truth is often based on whoever has the loudest voice… the biggest crowd… the meanest look. Whoever objects the most vehemently has the truth.

Today we are mostly influenced by whatever is trendy and since we don’t want to be singled out, we’re afraid to walk the path of truth.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: You never have to defend yourself when it comes to speaking the truth – God always will – when you speak up for Him… when you live your life for Him… when you let your light so shine for people to see. Though people maybe harass you, or accuse you, just listen and realize Jesus has stood in your shoes and is still standing in your shoes with you. He will defend you!

Father,
Give us a brave heart so that we can be a living witness to Your truth. Shine Your love and light on us so that all may know we are Yours. Defend us! In Jesus name we ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen