May 31st, 2018 — IGNITE

I want you to read this Bible verse…
“…we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will…” Ephesians 1:11

Now most people, after reading that verse, want to start talking about predestination. What is it? What does it mean? How does it work? And they concentrate so hard on the theology of predestination that they lose sight of what the rest of the verse says. They want to know if they are among those who are counted as worthy to be chosen before the world began. We call that “election.”

Now, this is a deep subject but let me try to still the waters as best as I can and as fast as I can. How do you know you’ve been elected by God before the world began? Let’s illustrate it like this… during the night it rained. I didn’t hear the rain. I didn’t see the rain, but in the morning, when I looked outside, I saw water puddles in my yard. Therefore, what I knew was that during the night it rained. The same is true with your election. If you know Jesus… believe in Jesus… have committed your life to Jesus… you now know you are among those who have been predestined.

But I want us to concentrate on the other parts of this verse.

First, we’re told we have an inheritance. That’s right, we have an inheritance. All the good things of God are ours. Remember, you don’t receive an inheritance until someone has died, and in this instance, Someone did die – Jesus. And because He died, everything that is His, is ours. His love… His power… His grace… His forgiveness… His joy… His peace! Why we ever live like paupers is baffling to me. Because you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior – everything He has is yours. Don’t live any differently and don’t let anybody tell you differently.

Secondly, the Word tells us that God, “works all things after the counsel of His will.” That means that everything that’s happening in your life, good… bad… indifferent… is happening for a reason. He’s thought it through… He’s counseled with Himself… and He has a plan for you that He’s working out. I know you may not like it, but He’s working it out. I know you think it’s unfair, but He’s working it out. I know you wish it could be different, but He’s working it out.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: God chose you on purpose and He’s working everything out in your life. Right now, your life may look chaotic in your eyes, but not His! He knows exactly what He’s doing and He will be praised. Today live in your inheritance. Live like a child of the King. Live above what the world offers you.

Father,
Help me live in my inheritance. Help me to remember You’re working everything out and I can trust You. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen 

May 30, 2018 — IGNITE

So, for many people, this time of year brings a new kind of joy. It’s time to plant the garden… put in the flowers… you know, spruce up the homestead. And I’ve got to tell you – I love working in the dirt. There’s just something about pushing my shovel in the ground, lifting up a clump of dirt, moving it around and sticking my fingers in the soil. I love taking a tiny little plant and tenderly putting it in the ground and patting some dirt around it.

Now I don’t have a very big garden, and I don’t plant every vegetable available. But I do have some tomatoes and green peppers and cucumbers. And this I know – though there might be different varieties, let’s say, of tomatoes – a tomato is a tomato. When I plant a tomato, I plan on picking a tomato from that plant in due time. I don’t plant a tomato and then expect to pick a head of cabbage, or some carrots and a few potatoes. We all know that’s not going to happen. I planted a tomato – I should harvest a tomato.

Now, I know this is supposed to be an encouraging spiritual devotion and not a lesson in agriculture, so let me get to my point. Here’s what the Bible says…
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7

Let me explain something to you. Just like that tomato plant in my garden, and me expecting tomatoes from that plant, you and I will only be able to harvest from our own lives what we sow into it. You shouldn’t expect anything else if you didn’t take the time, energy or effort to plant it.

You want to have a closer relationship with God? Spend more time with Him! You want to know the Word of God better? Read it a little more often. You want to have a strong prayer life? Pray! You want to experience the Holy Spirit’s power in your life? Surrender more of yourself to His leading.

You see, if those things, and a hundred more, aren’t happening in your life, it’s probably because you didn’t plant it. You’ve planted other things, like bad habits… negativity… stress… and you’re reaping a bountiful harvest. But you haven’t taken the time to plant good seeds of faith… forgiveness… hope… joy. You’ve got to intentionally… purposefully… deliberately… willfully…  drop those seeds into the ground of your heart, if you want them to grow.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: I don’t know what kind of garden you have, but I do know that what you plant in it, will be what you can expect to grow in it and produce from it. You will only out of it, what you put into it. Check out your seed source first, before you put anything in the ground.

Father,
I know when I put the good seed of Your Word in my life, I will produce good fruit. Jesus, in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 29th, 2018 — IGNITE

How big do you think God’s hands are? Don’t know if you’ve ever thought of that before, but for just a moment, imagine how big God’s hands are. Evidently, they are sizable, because Jesus told His disciples…
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29

Jesus even cried out on the cross in His moment right before dying…
“Father, into Your hand I commit My Spirit…” Luke 23:46

Because you’re in God’s hands, I just want to tell you to stand even in the midst of what you’re going through. I just want to tell you to keep the faith even when you don’t think you can. I just want to tell you to keep fighting even when you don’t know the enemies you’re up against.

I know it’s not always easy. I know there are days you don’t feel like drying your tears… there are some nights you don’t have the strength to pray… you don’t have the energy to wrestle one more match. I get it! I’ve been there as well. Where’s there? The point of being so frustrated and still failing… fighting and still losing… praying and still being unappreciated… faithful and still feeling alone…  anointed and still filled with anger… worshipping and still wandering.

So, if you’re going to fall, fall. If you feel like letting go, let go. If you want to give up, give up. But the only way to fall, let go or give up is into the hands of God. Here’s what King David said in his desperate times…
“I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do no let me fall into the hand of man.” 2 Samuel 24:14

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Stop trusting every man or woman who says they’ll hold you up. Stop relying on anybody’s arms to catch you when you fall. Just know, that you are in a pair of hands that will never let you go. Yes, you are in good hands!

Father,
Hold me close today. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

thjoughts: May 25th, 2018 — IGNITE

Have you ever had one of those weeks when nothing was going quite right and you just wanted it to end? Maybe you muttered words likes these under your breath: “I can’t wait for this week to end!”

Or has it ever gotten so bad that you sputtered these words: “This is the worst day of my life!” How many days do you think you’ve lived where you “just wanted to get through it?”

Well, I can’t change your circumstances. I can’t change what you’re dealing with our facing, but maybe I can pick your attitude up with a little encouragement. Today, sit down and read Psalm 118. It won’t take very long and it’s only 29 verses. Read it because this Psalm reminds us that each day we’ve been given, is a day created by God for each one of us personally. It’s a day we should rejoice in… a day we should celebrate… a day of jubilation. It’s not just another day on the calendar. It’s not a day where we should be burdened by the stress of our lives, but a day we should be praising and thanking God. He didn’t create this day for any other reason.

Psalm 118 reminds us that everyday we have is a gift from our Creator… a day we should treasure, because we don’t know if it will be our last. Everyday is a day we are able to live in God’s love and joy and share God’s love and joy with others.

What I find most interesting, is that many times our joy meter is running low. We don’t smile at a new day just because it exist. We don’t realize the mystery and fragility of our life. Instead, we take the gifts we have for granted and we grumble about the task at hand. We complain about having too much paperwork… too much homework… an unhappy boss… too many hours. We tell people how bad our day is going! Sound familiar?

Here’s what the Psalm writer told us to do…
“This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Try rejoicing today! Try to celebrate and be grateful for being able to know the One who holds all things together in the palm of His hands. Give Him some praise and glory today for the personal relationship you have with Him. We should wake up everyday saying, “This is the day…”

“This is the day… God made for me…”

“This is the day… I get to rejoice in.”

“This is the day… I will be glad about it.”

“This is the day!”

Remember, everyday God is sharing His love with us. Everyday is an opportunity to be loved by Him… to return His love to Him… and to share His love with others.

Father,
This is the day. With You it’s going to be an awesome day. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 24th, 2018 — IGNITE

Ok, so you’ve listened to me a good many times, and over the years you may have noticed that I’ve shared some things that “jumped off the page” at me, using my terminology. I still am amazed, after having read the Bible from front to back… from Genesis to Revelation… from the Index to the maps… 30+ times, that there are things I’ve never noticed before. I found another one today.

As I was reading about the burial of Jesus from Mark 15, I saw some words I don’t ever remember reading before. But before I share them with you, let me fill you in on what’s happening.

It’s Friday, and Jesus has just taken His last breath on the cross. It’s late in the afternoon, approaching the evening hour. Know please know that in the Jewish time frame days are from from evening to evening – not 12 midnight to 12 midnight. So, because Saturday is the Sabbath day and no work can be done, whatever is going to happen with Jesus body must happen before Friday ends and Saturday begins that night.

Now, here’s what the Bible tells us…
“Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God…” Mark 15:43

This Joseph, who may have been on the fence as to whether Jesus was the real Messiah or not, must have witnessed the crucifixion and must have been convicted into believing Jesus was who He said He was.

He’s concern then turned to getting Jesus body down from the cross before the day was over and the Sabbath day began. But how would he do that? He’d have to expose himself as a Jesus sympathizer, a Jesus believer. Others might see him. His own Council members might turn on him or perceive him as a traitor.

This was not premeditated. He wasn’t at the Council meetings that were held the night before, thinking he was going to take Jesus’ body down from the cross after he died. But somebody had to do something. But what would the ramifications of such a move do? What kind of consequences would he face?

And then here’s the words I’ve never noticed before…
“… and he gathered up courage…” Mark 15:43

“… he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” Mark 15:43

I don’t ever remember reading those words before, but boy did they smack me in the face today. I don’t know how he did it, but something inside of Joseph rose up and he made a decision, one that might have been very costly, but at that moment he didn’t care anymore and he gathered up courage.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: I don’t know what kind of decisions you are faced with making today, but TAKE COURAGE. Go ahead and take it. God has given it to you, but you need to take it. Don’t count the cost., just do the right thing!

Father,
I receive Your encouragement today that will give me courage. Jesus in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 23rd, 2018 — IGNITE

Sometime it would be interesting to share life’s notes with a whole group of people. You know, sit around and share life’s experiences – the good, the bad, the ugly. By the way, I saw a quote that said this: Your past may have been dark and ugly, but you are not.” Something inside of me gravitates towards those words. I needed to read that!

Just like you, I’ve experienced a good many things during my lifetime. Some had to do with health and injuries. Some had to do with death. Some of the hardships were work reality. Others had to do with places I have been allowed to go and the people I have met. As I get older, experience has shown me that all these aspects of my life, the good, the bad, the ugly, have actually been a blessing and God used them all for my good. Lets understand, it’s in life’s deep struggles, when we aren’t able to pull ourselves up, that we are forced to cry out to God to “save me.” It’s when we’ve reached the end of the line, the bottom of the pit, that we call on His name.

Here’s what the Bible says,
“I love the LORD, because He hears my voice… The LORD preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.” Psalm 116:1, 6

This Psalm is one of thanksgiving for being delivered from some life-threatening situation. It might have been an illness, but the description was open-ended enough apply to any number of horrible situations in life. No matter what the writer of this Psalm was facing, no matter how painful, the focus is not on the problem but on the truth that he turned to God at that moment and God was there.

The other thing we should note is that God loved the writer and us enough to respond in our moment of deepest need. He is never too early and He is never too late. Why? Because we are of great value to God. In His eyes, because of the all atoning sacrifice of His Son, we are worth it. The world around us may not see us as being special, or wanted, or needed, or have much value, but God always sees us as we really are: priceless! It’s important to view ourselves the way God views us: priceless!

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Thank God for specific moments in your life when He carried you through the deep struggles and challenges you were facing. Then continue to thank God for seeing you as valuable, even when other thought and treated you are worthless. Allow God to humbly lift you up and give you the worth to do meaningful and worthy things. It’s not until you understand how blessed you are that you will understand how to be a blessing to others.

Father,
I love you for listening to me, saving me, claiming me as Your own and giving me value. Jesus, thank You for making that all possible. It’s in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 22nd, 2018 — IGNITE

Remember the time you really thought that God was no longer hearing you pray? Ok, so maybe you’ve never thought that way, but I sure have. So for today I’ll just speak for myself.

I remember being in that place where I desperately needed help. There were times it was about health… there were times it was about relationships… there were times it was about money (or the lack of money). I remember crying out to my heavenly Father with despair in my heart. But there seemed to be no answer. The doors of heaven seemed shut. God had turned a deaf ear toward me.

I also remember other times where I was doing my compraining (praying + complaining), venting all my frustrations, wanting God to take care of my problem or take a certain person, who was just a thorn in my backside, out of my way, or simply just praying with a bad attitude. I wanted God to do what I was unwilling to do myself. I wanted God to intervene on my behalf and settle the issue. I wanted God to honor my request because I had a more righteous cause than the other person and somehow had convinced myself I deserved it.

I don’t know about you, but I have learned over the years that I have had to thank God for what He hasn’t given me. And I have also learned to thank Him, and am still learning to thank Him, for the request of mine He didn’t grant.

I thought of that today as I read the precious Word of God. Here’s what I read that made me think of that today…
“In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!’” Mark 15:31-32

What if God answered all of our prayers the way we demanded? I realize what the chief priest and scribes were saying probably wasn’t offered up as a prayer in our terminology, but it was a request, though probably more rhetorical. What if Jesus, hearing their request, somehow felt obligated to oblige them? Or, in response to their arrogance and meanness, decided to appease them? What if, Jesus came down off the cross because they asked? You do realize, we’d still be in our sin… there would be no victory over sin, death or hell… we would still be lost and condemned.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Thank God for always listening to you. Thank Him for the times He said “No.” to your prayer. Thank Him for what you don’t have. And thank Him for not always granting what you ask for but doing what’s best for you.

Father,
I know You are always listening to me. Thank You for hearing me and being so good to me. Jesus, it’s in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 21st, 2018 — IGNITE

I know I’ve said this before, but I really do love the Word of God. I love what my eyes see when I read it and I love how my heart feels when it reaches past the surface and goes deep within me. Here’s what I read this morning that grabbed hold of me…

“Tremble, O earth, before the Lord…” Psalm 114:7

I have to tell you, there’s something comforting in knowing we worship a God who causes all the earth to tremble. There’s something reassuring knowing the power our God holds. There’s a confidence that comes when you know our God can even do such a thing.

The popular thinking of today tends to shy away from a God of power and might, choosing to emphasize lowliness and meekness. But the same God who emptied Himself, took on flesh, and became a servant is also the God who causes the earth to tremble and shake, mountains to crash into the depths of the sea. The same Son of God who entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey will one day return leading a host of heavenly beings, the mighty army of God.

Tremble in the presence of the Lord. Never take for granted who it is that you worship. Never forget that He spoke billions of stars into existence. Never forget that He created not just one daisy, but billions upon billions of daisies and is still doing it today. Never forget that He intricately and wondrously formed you. Always keep in mind that you will one day stand before His judgment seat.

I remember a Latin phrase I learned in college many years ago. The two words were Coram Deo, which means before the face of God. Today, like yesterday and tomorrow, live Coram Deo, before the face of God. He sees your every action, hears your every word, knows your every thought. But even as you seek to live in the sight of your holy God, be comforted knowing that our God reigns over all creation. The earth will tremble at His presence. Every knee will bow before Him. Every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. And the trials you now face will one day be over as Jesus welcomes you into your eternal home with Him. The Lord, the righteous judge, will take vengeance on all His enemies and He will reward all those He has made His children.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Tremble at the presence of the Lord. Tremble in awesome respect and fear at His power. Tremble in overwhelming joy at His mercy toward you.

Father,

Even as the earth shakes in Your presence, I know I am welcomed to come before you through the blood of the Lamb. Jesus, thank You for making the way for me. It’s in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 18th, 2018 — IGNITE

Do you remember the last time something completely captivated you? It held your attention so tight, even if it was just for a moment of time? Maybe it was a documentary about an amazing historic figure or event. Maybe it was an athletic contest. Maybe it was a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Or maybe it was simply a love and interest in your chosen hobby. Whatever your interests may be, almost everyone has experienced the excitement of something new.

The person who wrote Psalm 111 is amazed, Here is what he says… “great are the works of the LORD”. These works aren’t simply good, they’re great! And just as some things in life usher a sense of awe and wonder, so should God’s works. In fact, His great works surround us through nature and are demonstrated throughout the Bible.

Unfortunately, sometimes we lose our sense of wonder in our walk with God. The majesty of His works and power lose their freshness, become normal to us and feel stagnate. This means that many times we can simply go through the motions of our faith and when that happens our power and glory fade and falter. Don’t let the works of God become like this in your life.

As we hear and read Bible passages often, let’s never lose our sense of awe. As we drive by the same mountains or forests, rather than growing accustomed to their beauty, we should look upon them with a wonder-filled heart that God has created something so big and beautiful. Not only are we called to delight in the majesty of God’s works, but they benefit us in our knowledge of and faith in God. We learn the following about the character of God as you read Psalm 111 :

vs. 3 – He is full of splendor and majesty; His righteousness endures forever

vs. 4 – He is gracious and merciful

vs. 5 – He remembers His covenants

vs. 7 – He is faithful, just, and trustworthy

These are all attributes of God that we learn by studying His word. This knowledge in turn increases our faith and gives us a greater appreciation for what God has done in, for and around us. Let’s rejoice and be glad that we serve such a loving and powerful God!

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Many people are looking for something that will boast their sagging faith. Their looking for an outside source that will pick them up and move them along. But the truth is, He, that is the Holy Spirit, is already inside of you. As you take time to concentrate on the works of God in your life, you’ll find a renewed sense of joy and delight in Him. Don’t miss it.

Father,
Help me keep my eyes wide open today to see Your beauty and glory. Refresh my faith. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

May 17th, 2018 — IGNITE

I noticed something in the Word today that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen before. It’s not as if I’ve never read this verse before, because I know I have numerous times. But when I read it, I had to stop and think deeply into it. I couldn’t go on to the next verse, because I believe the Holy Spirit was teaching me something I needed to learn, and I’m learning it. Maybe this will help you as well.

Remember after the Passover meal was celebrated by Jesus and His disciples, and He instituted what we call, The Lord’s Supper, they went out to this place called Gethsemane? He knew what was about to happen. He knew everything that He came to this earth for was about to go down. This was the moment all of creation had longed for.

Jesus does what most of us should do a whole lot more than we do – He prays. As they enter Gethsemane, this garden area, He tells His disciples to wait at the entrance while He spends some time in prayer. He took with Him, Peter, James and John into the inner circle of the garden, but then goes off by Himself for some heavy soul searching. He told these three this…
“My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” Mark 14:34

Then this is what we’re told…
“And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.” Mark 14:35

I know you know the next verse and what Jesus said to His Father, but let me tell you again…
“Abba! Father! All things are possible for Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt.” Mark 14:36

But before you concentrate on verse 36, read again verse 35, He “began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.”

And when that didn’t happen, it’s not as if Jesus just stopped praying, for we know He prayed the same thing two more times (Mark 14:39). He didn’t give up. He just didn’t stop and give in. He didn’t throw His hands in the air in total frustration. He didn’t try to bargain with God or manipulate Him. He didn’t decide to take matters into His own hand. He didn’t run and He didn’t hide. No, He pursued God in His deepest, trying time and He accepted what His Father had planned, knowing it was the absolute best plan. He focused on His Father rather than the situation.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: I don’t know what you’re facing today. I don’t know what hardship has knocked you down or is about to knock you down. But what I do know is what will happen if you focus on your heavenly Father, rather than the circumstance. He will deliver you.

Father,
I’m keeping my eyes fixed on You today. Jesus in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen