June 4th, 2018 — IGNITE

Last week I ended my devotions by sharing some thoughts of Zacharias and his encounter with the angel Gabriel. You remember the scene right? Zacharias is doing his priestly duty, inside the holy place in the temple, when the angel Gabriel appeared and told him his wife, Elizabeth, was going to have a baby, even though both of them are way past the age of getting pregnant.

Without thinking, (which is a common problem for most of us), Zacharias puts his  mouth in motion, starting asking questions, which are really full of doubt. Gabriel tells him it’s really going to happen in due time, but until that time he is going to be speechless.

That’s where we pick up today’s thought. It’s been nine months of complete silence. Something inside of me is thinking, Elizabeth was probably one of the most relaxed pregnant women who ever lived, as she hasn’t heard a peep out of her husband for the entire pregnancy. Finally she gives birth to a bouncing baby boy, just like Gabriel said she would. All her neighbors and her relatives celebrate with her.

Now on the eighth day they went to the temple to have him circumcised. And just so you know, it’s not until the eighth day that blood clotting substances reach their all-time high. And as they’re going through the procedure, inquiring about the name of this boy, everyone gets informed that he won’t be named after his father, like most children were, but he’ll be named John. Everyone was a bit miffed about it, because no one in the entire family had ever had that name. So they asked Zacharias.

Please remember, he can’t talk. He hasn’t said a word for the last 9 plus months. Since he can’t talk, he takes out his iPad, because the Bible says, “… he asked for a tablet…” and wrote, “His name is John.” Luke 1:63

But now here’s what I want you to see. This is what the Bible tells us…
“And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.” Luke 1:64

Did you catch that? There’s something about putting your faith in action and agreeing with God. Zacharias had nine months to think about it. He must have pondered his actions over and over again. He wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. And when he acted in faith, agreeing with God, his voice came back. He then used his voice to praise God.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: What do you need to act in faith and be in agreement with God for Him to release you into? What’s not happening in your life because you haven’t believed it would happen? Remember what the angel told Mary about Elizabeth getting pregnant in her old age? He said, ‘For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

Father,
Nothing is impossible with You. This I believe! Jesus in Your mighty and powerful name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

June 1st, 2018 — IGNITE

Can I just tell you… I’d be speechless. Utterly, totally, speechless. There is no doubt in my mind that if it happened to a guy like Zacharias, who the Bible says was “righteous” and “blameless” in the sight of God, it would happen to me as well. What am I talking about? Being speechless.

Remember the story of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist? Him and his wife, Elizabeth were older. How old, I don’t know, but old enough not to get pregnant anymore. And they didn’t have any children.

Zacharias was a priest and worked in the temple. He happened to be on duty one day and he was the one who was assigned to go into the holy place in the temple and burn incense. Only one person was allowed to go in, and he was the guy.

When he got inside the holy place, he was met by an angel named Gabriel, who told him this fantastic news, that Zacharias’s prayer was heard and his wife Elizabeth was going to give birth to a baby boy. Then the angel went on to tell him the great things this boy would do and how he would be a precursor to the Savior of the world and announce the coming of the King.

However, Zacharias wasn’t quite buying it. After all this time… after all the prayer… after all the agony of watching his wife suffer ridicule for not giving birth to a child… now she was going to get pregnant? He even admitted to the angel that he was old and his wife was up there in years as well.

And here’s what the angel said to Zacharias…
“I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their proper time.” Luke 1:19-20

Can I say it again? I’d be speechless too! How many times have I prayed for something… many times… over extended periods of time… but eventually just let it go as I stopped believing it could or would happen? How many times have I prayed for something and when I didn’t see anything happen, just moved on to the next thing? How many times did I pray for something, but only half-heartedly believed and then when it was happening before my very eyes, still doubted? Yea, I’d be speechless too.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: You still have your voice, and you’re still communicating – that’s a good thing! Let’s praise God today that we still can speak, that He hasn’t taken our voice away for our lack of faith, and let’s praise Him and believe Him for even greater things!

Father,
Thank You for hearing my voice and answering me every time. I believe! Jesus, it’s in Your holy and mighty name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

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