June 15th, 2017 – DEVOTE

So, let me ask you a question… What’s your most favorite part of your body? Go ahead… think about it? What’s your most favorite part of your body? I’m pretty sure as you’re doing an inventory of yourself, you’re also thinking of those parts of your body that don’t make the top 5 list… that ring around the middle… sagging skin… droopy muscles… gnarly toes… protruding proboscis! There, I listed my top 5 with no problem!

But what about your favorite parts? That welcoming smile… strong hand grip to shake someone’s hand… loving arms to wrap around someone… beautiful feet that bring good news… ears that hear the sound of the world around you… eyes that see the colors of creation. What’s your favorite part?

Truth is, all those parts, the favorite and the not so favorite, make up the whole of you. You just can’t eliminate the parts you don’t like. You need them – at least to some extent.

The same is true for the body of Christ – the church. We need each other. We need the parts of the body that are important and noticeable as well as those parts that are more behind the scenes and many times unnoticeable.

Even as I write that, I think about the many things that happen at a church that most people don’t ever even think about. For example, I think about those people who set up communion for us. I’m not sure what most people think in the congregation. I don’t know if they just think the bread and the wine just show up on the altar because God put it there since it’s a communion Sunday, or if they know there are some dear blood bought saints that prepare the meal for us all.

Here’s the Word that prompted that thinking…
“Together you are the body of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:27 CEV

I’ve often posed the question as to what I would be labeled if I was missing my left arm. In a politically correct world, I would be labeled “handicapped,” “disabled.” I wonder what we’d call a church that was missing an arm, or a leg, or an eye, or a mouth? Would we still call it handicapped? Or maybe the better question is: Have we noticed that the church is missing a few parts that are needed to really be the body? And have you ever thought that you are that part?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: It seems to me that the church – the body of Christ – is missing more body parts all the time. Some parts have just fallen off… some have been amputated. I don’t know what part of the body you are, but I want you to know that what you offer to the body of Christ is of utmost importance. We need you – the body of Christ needs you!

Father,
By the power of Your love and the gifting of Your Spirit, help us work together for the Your Bride, the church. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

June 15th, 2017 – DEVOTE

Let me see if I can tie two Bible verses together to help us understand a great truth. Here’s the first one…
“But when the Lord judges and punishes us, He does it to keep us from being condemned with the rest of the world.” 1 Corinthians 11:32 CEV

And you thought you were just going through a rough time in your life, right? Absolutely not! God loves us more than we could ever imagine. So much so, that He’ll do whatever He needs to do to keep us from throwing our life away – even punish us, and discipline us. We probably don’t like it and as a matter of fact we probably resist it. But from our Father’s viewpoint – it’s necessary!

That’s what a good father does. He steps in before it too late, to set right that which has gone terribly wrong. He knows that if we keep going down the path we’re on, we’ll only end up farther away than where we want to be. So in order for that not to happen, He steps into our lives so that we aren’t castigated and sentenced like those who don’t believe. In other words, He gives us another opportunity to come back to Him, even though it might hurt.

If you don’t believe me, here’s the second verse…
“The LORD God of Israel had appeared to Solomon two times and warned him not to worship foreign gods. But Solomon disobeyed and did it anyway.” 1 Kings 11:9-10 CEV

Can I tell you that was the worst decision King Solomon ever made? You would think being the wisest man on the face of the earth would have given him a little common sense, but it didn’t. Even though God actually appeared to Solomon, twice, he still wasn’t moved.

I know, we’re reading this and saying, “Well if I saw God, not once but twice, I would change my ways.” And I’m going to tell you, I’m not sure that’s true. God is speaking us all the time and sometimes it’s a word of correction… it’s a word of warning. We may not hear an audible voice, or actually see a vision of God, but He’s giving us cues all the time – through His Word, through your pastor, through other Christian friends, who love us enough to tell us the truth. We just don’t see it or hear it because we’re don’t want to change.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Because King Solomon decided to disobey God and not listen to His warning, the kingdom of Israel was divided in two. While most of Solomon’s reign as king was lived in peace, the last years of his life were lived at war and when he died, the kingdom divided just like God said. Listen for the voice of God. If He’s warning you – stop and start over by repenting. If you’re experiencing discipline and punishment – stop and start over. He is always faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. He’ll give you another opportunity.

Father,
Thank You for warning me. Thank You for disciplining me. Thank You for saving me. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

June 13th, 2017 – DEVOTE

I remember many years ago when I first started reading the Bible from front to back, getting a little bored reading certain books of the Bible – like Leviticus and Deuteronomy in particular. There just wasn’t enough action or movement. It was a bunch of laws that seemed impertinent to me. Even as I read it, my mind would start to wander in every other direction. It was hard to concentrate on the words I was reading.

At other times, I remember reading the Word and had a hard time imagining what it must have really been like living in those times. It was like too far away and the lifestyle, the culture, was so radically different from my own, that it was hard for me to relate. It also seemed as if those people in the Bible lived in a different world and had no idea of the struggles and sins we deal with today.

When that happens, it’s then we might find ourselves using the Bible just as a tool to encourage and inspire us rather than to bring us to repentance and back into a right relationship with God. You and I can miss a tremendous amount of truth in our walk with Jesus if we just focus on what we want and like instead of having to take a good hard look at our own lives and bring them into subjection to our God.

Those thoughts rumbled through my mind today as I read this from the Word…
“What happened to them is a warning to keep us from wanting to do the same evil things.” 1 Corinthians 10:6 CEV

Our minds can take us places we would otherwise be unable to physically go. In this one verse, the writer is describing for us one of the benefits of reading the Word. As we read the Old Testament, and even some parts of the New Testament, we should keep one eye on them and one eye on ourselves, knowing that “what happened to them is a warning to keep us from wanting to do the same evil things.”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: When you read the Bible, do it with a mind fully engaged in what you’re reading. See it in High Definition and hear it in Surround Sound. Let it touch your spirit, your inner person, realizing that God included true accounts of good and evil for a purpose – to keep us from doing the same evil things. All of these true life events weren’t written in the Bible so that you could feel as though you would never fall into a certain sin, but to warn you to keep away from it. Isn’t God good all the time? Open your Bible – read all about it!

Father,
As I read Your Word, speak to me. Speak to me about our relationship and what You desire from me. Thank You for giving me a warning of what to stay away from. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

June 12th, 2017 – DEVOTE

So, while I was in Papua New Guinea with my daughter, we had many occasions to worship with the blood bought saints there. We sang and worshipped in our church services… we sang and worshipped in the car as we drove from one place to another… we sang and worshipped in the houses we stayed in… we even sang and worshipped in the open air, under the canopy of heaven. Each time we sang and worshipped the songs would build and mount to a heavenly crescendo of praise to God. It was lively, breath-taking, and utterly moving.

It was during one of those times it dawned on me that many people really miss out on such a monumental experience. As a matter of truth, the Holy Spirit started explaining some things to me, in a way that I could comprehend. Here’s what He explained to me, and maybe it will help you…

Many people today want to experiment with God. They may or may not be willing to give God a try to some extent. This happens primarily when life is horrible and they’re grasping for the last straw. They’ve run the gamut – they’ve tried everything. And since they’ve expended everything they’ve got, they might as well give God a try. It happens when there’s financial difficulty, marital problems, health issues.

Worship, for many people, is an experimental exercise. To a certain extent we’ve become 58 minute Christians. We come to our church services, put in our time, go through the motions, all the while experimenting with God. We really don’t expect God to do anything in that 58 minutes – like change our lives or meet our needs. But we wouldn’t say “no” if He did decide to step in and alleviate at least some of our discomfort. Whether that happens or not is subject to the depth of our pain and the openness of our heart in seeking Him.

However, the Holy Spirit started revealing to me we weren’t to experiment with God when we come to worship, but experience God in our worship. That’s a huge difference. To not just know that He’s in the House, but He’s weaving in and around us – present with us. He’s filling every thought, every word, every movement. He wants to be experienced in His holiness… His purity… His faithfulness… His grace… His love… His mercy. He wants to touch every aspect of your life – physically… intellectually… spiritually… emotionally.

I was reminded of that as I read of King Solomon dedicating the temple. Here’s what the Bible says…
“Suddenly a cloud filled the temple as the priests were leaving the most holy place. The LORD’s glory was in the cloud, and the light from it was so bright that the priests could not stay inside to do their work.” 1 Kings 8:10-11 CEV

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: If you’ve been experimenting with God, today might be a good day to stop that and start experiencing God. He’s readily available!

Father,

Let me experience Your presence in my life today. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

June 9th, 2017 – Devote

We all know that sometime or another we’re going to go through some things we wished we didn’t have to. Things like the loss of a loved one… being released from a job… the breakdown of a relationship… financial setback. Most often we don’t see these things coming, so when they do, they totally knock us off kelter.

But while in Papua New Guinea, the Holy Spirit really drew my attention to who I am in Him and what He offers to me. And if the things He revealed to me are true and real for me, then they’re also true and real for you.

Here’s what you and I need to know and believe. We are the Church! The Church is not some building you go to, to dedicate 58 minutes to on a Sundaymorning. The Church is not even the fellowship group or ministry group you belong to. The Church is Christ in you the hope of glory. It’s the power of the resurrection living and breathing in you. Jesus said He would build His Church and the gates of hell would never overpower it.

Knowing that, then there’s something else you should know. The Church is the most powerful organism in the universe. The Church is more powerful than any government. The Church is more powerful than any nation. The Church is more powerful than big business. The Church is more powerful than money. The Church is not an institution, an organization or a denomination. The Church is a living, breathing organism that contains the power of the resurrected Lord.

And you, my friend, are the Church! What you say… the Church says. What you do… the Church does. Where you go… the Church goes, because you are the Church. No wonder God never wanted man to build Him a temple. He knew that when man built Him a temple, we would try to contain Him to the limit of our square footage. But God was never limited to our building and never will be. Why? Because we are the Church – living and moving.

I was reminded of that again this morning as I read these words from the Bible…
“Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world?” 1 Corinthians 6:2 CEV

You don’t get that position because you have the creativity and ingenuity it takes to possess that. You, as a follower of Jesus Christ, will judge the world because of the One living in you. You are the Church! I really hope you get that today!

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: God spoke the world into existence, it was so and it was good. God has spoken into you and me and whether we realize it or not, it is so and it is good! We are the Church and the gates of hell will never overpower us!

Father,

Through the power of Your Spirit living in me, remind me today that I am the Church Jesus was talking about, and the gates of hell will never overpower me. Jesus in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

June 8th, 2017 – DEVOTE

Sometimes it's not easy making decisions. We’re faced with difficult decisions all the time. I’m not talking about your garden variety type of decisions, like, “What should I wear today?” Or “Should I go golfing today?” I’m talking about those types of questions that keep you awake at night. The ones that demand an answer but have so many angles to them that you’re not sure if you’re coming or going. These are the types of questions that are heavy duty and probably effect a number of people.

So how do you make difficult decisions? Do you have a process that’s worked for you? What’s your process of elimination that helps you derive your answer?

I hope the answers to those questions come down to one single entity – God. Because if the truth were known, if you leave Him out of the equation, you’re going to be making a lot of bad decisions.

I thought of that today as I was reading the account of two women standing before young King Solomon – both arguing that their baby was the live baby.  Remember the story?

Two women lived in the same house. Both had just recently given birth, to I’m sure, beautiful babies. However during the night the one mother rolled over on her baby and accidently killed it. She then swapped her dead baby with the other womans live baby. When the second woman woke up in the morning, she realized two things… #1 – the baby lying next to her, was dead, and #2 – it wasn’t hers. So the two of them were found standing in front of a very young, inexperienced ruler, and it was there that they argued as to who’s baby was alive.

All three people in this account had to make a decision…

#1 – the first lady made a decision to steal and to lie. Her situation called for drastic measures in difficult times. This can happen to us as well when we take God out of the equation and make rash and hasty decisions.

#2 – the second lady made a decision to surrender at her own cost. When young King Solomon ordered the baby be cut in two and a half given to each lady, she no longer looked at her situation from her standpoint, but for the well-being of others. She reasoned that it would be better for her child to be alive and in the arms of another mother, than to be dead. That’s surrender.

#3 – don’t forget King Solomon. He made a truthful decision in a very difficult situation. But here’s the difference – he trusted God. His decision was to find the truth of love and he found it.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: You’re going to be faced with difficult decisions, so start with God and end with God. Look at life through His eyes and you’ll find that just as you could trust Him in the past – you can trust Him even now!

Father,
Help me in all my decisions today! In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen