April 10th, 2017 – Devote

The book of Philemon is just one short chapter in the Bible, but one that carries a potent message. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to a fellow believer named Philemon, who was a wealthy man living in Colossae, who owned slaves and who used his large house for church meetings (v2). Somehow, probably through Paul, Philemon was introduced to the saving gospel of Christ and that’s what made this connection between them so rich.

Paul wrote this letter while in jail on behalf of one of Philemon’s slaves who ran away. His name was Onesimus. Onesimus had become a follower of Jesus through the ministry of Paul as well, and was very valuable to Paul while he was in jail. Paul wrote this letter to encourage Philemon to accept Onesimus back, not as a slave but as a friend and as a follower of Jesus too.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. Today is the beginning of what we refer to as Holy Week. It’s here and now that we focus our attention to that Upper Room and Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper. Then we watch the arrest in a place called Gethsemane and the horrific mockery of a trial, condemning innocent Jesus. We hear the crowd shouting, “Crucify Him,” as He stands before Pilate. We walk with Him out to Golgotha and see Him die.

As I’ve told many before, don’t take Him off that cross prematurely. Don’t sugarcoat the crucifixion to make yourself feel better. You’ll never experience and appreciate the glorious resurrection of Jesus from the dead, until you fully comprehend that He died for all sins, yours and mine.

Here’s the verse that reminded me of all of that today. As Paul wrote to Philemon, he encouraged him to welcome Onesimus back into relationship with him as he would do with Paul himself. Paul told Philemon that if Onesimus owed him anything, that he could charge it to Paul’s account and Paul would pay it all back in full – though I’m not sure where a prisoner would ever get money. Then Paul tells Philemon…
“But don’t forget that you owe me your life.” Philemon 19 CEV

That wasn’t a threat. That wasn’t a bullying remark. That was truth. As Paul introduced Philemon to the Savior of the world, Philemon needed to know that he should be truly thankful to Paul for telling him about Jesus. Philemon needed to know that being saved made him very wealthy, not his earthly riches. And he owed his life to the one who introduced him to the Savior.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Who do you owe your life to because they introduced you to Jesus? Maybe your parents? A Sunday School teacher? A Pastor? A friend? The greatest life changing gift you can ever give to anyone is Jesus. This week invite a friend to Easter services with you. Make a friend… Be a friend… Bring a friend to Christ!

Father,

Thank You for saving me! In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

April 3rd, 2017 Devote

Back in the day, when I was in college, I worked as a groundskeeper during the summer months to pay for my tuition. My supervisor, Bernie Johnson, was one of a kind. He was loving and compassionate. He had a good listening ear. He had so much knowledge about grass, flowers, trees, and a lot of good advice for a young man who was very green behind the ears.

One of the many things that Mr. Johnson said to me more than once was, “If you don’t use your head, you’ll have to use your feet.” It was his way of telling me to prepare for the day – the task at hand, and to think ahead of anything extra I might need to get the job done, without wasting any time having to go back to the shop for something. If I didn’t plan ahead and had to go back to the shop for that tool I forgot, I’d end up walking back to the shop and burning precious time.

I remembered that today as I read Deuteronomy 10. In the first few verses, Moses was telling the people of Israel how God told him to chisel out two flat stones for a set of Commandments, just like the ones God had given him the first time. Since Moses broke the first set of Commandments, God wanted these two flat stones to write a second set. Here’s what Moses said…
“… I chiseled two flat stones like the ones I broke. Then I carried the stones up the mountain…” Deuteronomy 10:3 CEV

I guess, Mr. Johnson wasn’t the first person to say, “If you don’t use your head, you’ll have to use your feet” –  God did. For a brief moment in time, Moses lost his head. When he came down the mountain the first time, with the first set of Commandments, and saw the people bowing before the golden calf, he lost his mind – he didn’t think it threw. He stopped thinking. He threw down the two flat stones God had written the Commandments on and shattered them. Not sure why he just couldn’t have set them down on the ground, but in that moment, he didn’t use his head, and ended up using his feet, walking all the way back up the mountain to get a second set of Commandments.

Like me, you’ve probably said things you wished you would’ve never said, right? Like me, you may have stepped into a situation you weren’t invited to step into, but did anyway, right? Like me, you probably understand “If you don’t use your head, you’ll have to use your feet” more than you’d like to admit, right?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Get your walking shoes on! Do the right thing! Next time – Think it through! Take a deep breath! Smile! Live by grace!

Father,

Thank you for second chances, even if it means using our feet the second time. Forgive us, renew us and lead us, In Jesus name we ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen