July 17th, 2017 – DEVOTE

What would it take for you to really trust and believe Jesus? That’s the main question I believe the Holy Spirit is asking me today as I start a new adventure in ministry. What will it take for me to really trust and believe Jesus? Maybe He’s asking you the same thing.

I mean, there are so many worldly factors against me… I am 58 years old – I’m not old but this isn’t necessarily a time for someone my age to start a new career (though I don’t know what age is). Another factor is, I need to raise my own financial support – not necessarily something that most people want to do, either from my standpoint or from others. They might believe in what you’re doing, but aren’t going to put their hard-earned money towards it, even if is sounds righteous. But, I’m all in. I’m going to trust and believe like never before. If you’re there today, I pray you’ll do the same. Here’s why…

One day Jesus was teaching down at the beach. The crowd kept getting larger and pushing Jesus towards the shoreline, so Jesus noticing that there were a couple of boats right there, got into one of them and asked the owner to push off from shore. The boat owner was Simon Peter. While Peter rowed them away from the shore Jesus kept teaching the people.

When Jesus was finished teaching, He wanted to prove a point, so ask the boat owner to row his boat to the deep water and let down his net to catch some fish. Peter told him that they had been working all night long and didn’t catch a thing. In other words, they were tired, worn out, frustrated, because they had been to doing their best to make a living, but they had nothing to show for it. But here’s what Peter says…
“But if you tell me to, I will let the nets down.” Luke 5:5 CEV

I hope you know the rest of the story. They dropped their nets and caught so many fish that their nets started to rip. So they called the other boat, the other one on shore, out to them and they actually filled both boats with so many fish that “they both began to sink.” Luke 5:7 CEV

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but if Jesus asked you to “let down your nets” would you do it? Would you trust Him and believe Him even if you had worked all night long and you caught nothing? Even if it seemed contrary to everything you knew, would do it?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Trust and believe! When Jesus tells you to lower your nets, don’t give Him every excuse why it won’t work, just do it. Don’t tell me your reasons why it’s not possible, just willingly obey. I’m expecting my nets to be filled – what about you?

Tell me to lower my nets. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 14th, 2017 – DEVOTE

Have you ever thought of what it would have been like to be the parents of Jesus? I’m mean, I don’t think it could have been all that difficult, but He was a child just like all the rest of us. I’m sure he skinned his knee, and spilled his glass of milk, just like us. But knowing that He is the Son of the Most High God, how would you bring correction and discipline when needed?
I thought of that while reading Luke 2 today. The Bible tells us that when Jesus was 12 years old, you know – middle school age – around 6th grade (that already sends a shiver up some spines), Joseph, Mary and Jesus all headed to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, which was a yearly event.
When the Passover was all over they headed home. However, Joseph and Mary left without knowing that Jesus stayed in the city. They thought he was with other family members and friends, since they travelled in caravans to protect themselves from thieves along the way. It would have been common for the younger ones to run and goof around while walking. But like I said, Jesus stayed in the city.
A full day went by before they realized that Jesus was nowhere to be found. Can you imagine the panic that most of us would feel? They hurriedly went back to Jerusalem. Then the Bible tells us they looked for Jesus in Jerusalem for three days. Let’s see, they walked for a day… they walked back for another day… they looked for three days – 5 days went by. On the 5th, or possibly the 6th day, they found Jesus in the temple, sitting with everyone, listening and actually telling them what He knew.
Here’s the verse that jumped off the page for me…
“When His parents found Him, they were amazed.” Luke 2:48 CEV
Yeah, “amazed” isn’t the word I was thinking. Irritated might be better. Or how about infuriated. Or maybe even exasperated, but I’m not thinking amazed.
Mary even asked Him what He was thinking, didn’t He know they would be worried. Jesus responded…
“Why did you have to look for Me? Didn’t you know that I would be in My Father’s house?” Can I tell you, back in the day, if I would have said something like to my father, I would have gotten a good swift hand to the back of the head. Then the Bible says,
“But they did not understand what He meant.” Luke 2:50 CEV
What’s my point in all of this? Many times we forget who Jesus really is. He is the Son of God. He is our Redeemer and Savior. He is the Light of the world, the bright Morning Star and the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He isn’t meant to be as much understood, as believed.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Give to Jesus the honor and respect He deserves. Shower on Him your love and worship Him with everything in you. You might not always understand His ways, but just believe Him anyway!
Your ways are not our ways, and Your thoughts are not our thoughts. Help me to trust and believe You more each day. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 13th, 2017 – DEVOTE

Have you ever noticed, as soon as you start praying, and you really know God is answering your request, that’s when you start asking the questions?

Are you sure God? When God? Why God? Where did You want me to go, God? How?

That was the overwhelming message I got this morning as I finished reading Malachi and started reading Luke. In Malachi, the prophet points out seven questions the people asked of God…

#1. “… yet you ask in what way have I loved you?” Malachi 1:2 CEV

#2. How did we insult you?” Malachi 1:6 CEV

#3. “How have we embarrassed You?” Malachi 1:7 CEV

#4. “How did we do that?” Malachi 2:17  CEV

#5. “How can we return?” Malachi 3:7 CEV

#6. “How are we robbing you?” Malachi 3:8 CEV

#7. “What have we said?” Malachi 3:13 CEV

Questions… questions… questions.

Then when I start reading the Gospel of Luke, I run into more questions.

The angel Gabriel came to an old priest by the name of Zechariah and told him his aging wife, who never had any children, was going to become pregnant, even in her old age. His question…
“How will I know this is going to happen? My wife and I are both very old.” Luke 1:18 CEV

Talk about a lack of faith!

But there’s one more question – it’s from a young virgin girl named Mary. That same angel, Gabriel, appeared to her as well and informed her she was going to give birth to the Son of the Most High God – Jesus. Her question…
“How can this happen? I’m not married.” Luke 1:34 CEV

At first the questions seem to run parallel – questions of doubt, but Mary’s is not a question of doubt, but of practicality. Mary wasn’t married as of yet, which prompts her to ask her question. She knows how babies are born. On the other hand, don’t you just want to scream at Zechariah and say, “You’re going to know it’s going to happen after you have sex with your wife and she starts having morning sickness!” (Sorry for the bluntness!)

Many times, we’re not much different. We pray, asking for a job, someone’s health, healing in a relationship. But then when God answers and ask us to walk it out in faith, we start in with the questions. We want all the details. It’s as if we’re not content seeing the one float in the parade that’s right in front of us because we want to see the whole parade.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: “We walk by faith, not by sight!” God’s not disturbed by our questions, but He is unhappy when we don’t like the answers! Next time He starts answering your prayers, don’t rattle Him with all your questions, just believe!

Forgive me for the times You have showed Yourself to be Almighty in my life, but I failed to fully trust You. Holy Spirit help me to walk in faith, knowing my God has everything under control, even when I don’t see it, feel it, or understand it. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 12th, 2017 – DEVOTE

Though our family didn’t live on a farm, I worked on a farm as a kid growing up. It was the only job available in the little town I grew up in. I loved working on the farm. You were up really early in the morning and you worked till late at night, but it was good.

Then after I graduated from high school, heading to college, I took on a new job – groundskeeper. I liked that even better. I got to work with machinery (though much smaller)… got to be outside (most of the time, when it wasn’t raining)… and learned a ton about grass, plants, bushes and trees.

For the first four years I had a tough boss – it was my dad. He had high expectations and I tried my best to live up to them. The man under him who oversaw me, the head groundskeeper, was Bernie. Bernie was so knowledgeable about the grass, the plants, the bushes and the trees. I really liked working with Bernie. He was kindhearted and willing to teach and explain things to me. Here’s one of his teachings that I have never forgotten and have through the years taught to others…
“If you don’t use your head… you’ve got to use your feet.”

Read it again and let it soak in for a moment. That was Bernie’s way of telling me to think ahead. We planned out our day taking all the tools we needed so that we weren’t constantly running back to the shop getting something we had forgotten, wasting time. Bernie was a total planner. He thought through everything before he set out for the job at hand.

That’s what I thought of today as I read this verse…
“If you don’t sharpen your ax, it will be harder to use…” Ecclesiastes 10:10 CEV

No, Bernie didn’t say that, King Solomon did. King Solomon was trying to tell us, if we don’t think through what we’re going to do and sharpen the edge, considering carefully how we’re going to go about something, we’ll only expend a lot of effort and find ourselves worn out doing it. But wise people, understanding the need for sharpness and clarity in their life, and they’ll make sure the edge of that blade has been sharpened so they can succeed.

How do you sharpen the edge of that blade? By being in the Word and letting God speak to you. If you’re willing to obey what He tells us, it’ll take the dullness right out of your life.

Another way to be sharpened is by the people around you in your life. Hopefully you have some God-fearing friends who you allow to speak into your life when you get dulled by this world.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Ask yourself, how many times you set out to do something on your own strength, but didn’t really think it through, wasting a lot of time, and not succeeding? Sharpen your ax, because… if you don’t use your head, you’ll have to use your feet.

Direct my steps today. Thank you for Your Word and putting people in my life who can sharpen me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 11th, 2017 — DEVOTE

You can ask my children if I’m telling the truth, but one of the things I have always told them was, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish!” Little did they know that there dad wasn’t all that brilliant in making that up, because he got it from the Bible. That’s right, King Solomon said it before I ever did. This is what he said…
“Finishing is better than starting…” Ecclesiastes 7:8 NLT

“Something completed is better than something just begun…” Ecclesiastes 7:8 CEV

Think about it for a moment. The Bible is chucked full of accounts of people who started well, but finished horribly, like King Saul and Judas. And the Bible also has plenty of people who started miserably but finished great.

Here’s a few of them that come to my mind!

Think of the demon possessed man in Mark 5. He lives in the cemetery… abuses himself… nobody likes him or even wants him around… he’s rude and crude to Jesus… but once set free from those demons by Jesus, he couldn’t help but go back home and tell his family and friends what the Lord did for him and how He had mercy on him.

Or how about Joseph. His brothers literally hate him, so much so they want to kill him, but instead sold him. Then after being deported he ends up in a country, far from home, where he doesn’t know the language or the customs. It’s there he lands a good job, but is accused of making sexual advances towards his bosses wife, which were totally false, and ends up in jail. But remember, it’s not how you start but how you finish. Joseph finished second in command of a whole country.

Or how about Paul. He was only doing what the world around him told him was success. He was a great legalist as a Pharisee. He was taught by the best. He was an up and rising star. He had a bright future according to himself and those around him. He was headed for the top until he got his priorities reorganized by Jesus Himself. His beginning wasn’t as great as he thought and he found out real quickly, “It’s not how you start but how you finish.” Paul had a tremendous finish.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Maybe you’ve made some mistakes in your life. Maybe you’ve made some compromises you wished you had never made and done some things you shouldn’t have done. Maybe you now feel like you have no other choice, the die has been cast and your course is set. That’s not true. While you still have life and breath, you can still change. Repent! Ask God to forgive you. Because… it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish!

Forgive me. Give me a new start today! In Jesus name I ask this, Amen

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 10th, 2017 – DEVOTE

So I started reading the book of Ecclesiastes today. I read chapters 1-4. It’s a great book, written by King Solomon – a very wise man. In it you can tell he’s on a mission – to find the meaning of life. And at first when you start reading this book of the Bible you start with a very gloomy outlook. He tells us life is boring and “as senseless as chasing the wind.” As a matter of fact, he uses that phrase, “as senseless as chasing the wind,” six times in the first four chapters.

In this book of the Bile, King Solomon looks at one area of life after another, trying to find the meaning and purpose of life. But even the wisest man comes to the conclusion, we as humans will never fully grasp or comprehend the meaning and purpose of life. In other words, asking the question, “What’s the purpose of life?” is “as senseless as chasing the wind.” You’ll never come to a concrete answer. You’ll never totally understand it.

Now, that could be very depressing for some. It almost leaves us lifeless – what’s the use then? If we can’t figure out the purpose and meaning of life, why go any further. Let’s just stop while we’re ahead and call it even. Why waste all our time, energy and resources on something we can’t fathom?

But Solomon does tell us what we’re supposed to be doing. Read this…
“What do we gain by all of our hard work? I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. I know the best thing we can do is always enjoy life, because God’s gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do. Everything God has done will last forever; nothing He does can ever be changed. God has done all this, so that we will worship Him.” Ecclesiastes 3:9-14 CEV

Did you catch that? All this stuff, the things in this life happen, so that we will worship God. That’s our meaning and purpose in life – to worship our Creator and Redeemer. To honor Him and praise Him for all we have and for all we don’t have.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Many times we get so far off track that it’s hard for us to find our way back home. The simplest way for me to say this is: Your and mine meaning and purpose in life is to worship God! All the other “stuff” of life… money, jobs, homes, cars, are just stuff. But He is real and deserving of our praise and adoration.

I praise You, I worship You. I adore You. You truly are my all in all. Jesus it’s in Your name I pray this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 7th, 2017 – DEVOTE

Sometimes the evidence around us must be too great or we are utterly blind.  That’s why we don’t pay attention to the facts. We overlook them or ignore them, thinking that whatever the outcome is, it couldn’t happen to us.

Let me prove my point. Every year people are seriously hurt in car accidents because they refuse to wear their seatbelts – though they were not just suggested to wear them but were mandated to wear them.

Every year people are seriously hurt in car accidents, sometimes fatally, because they drove drunk, though they were told not to drink and drive.

Every year children and pets become sick and some even die because parents leave their kids in their cars on hot summer days, though they were told the ramifications to such a decision.

Every year people become sick and some die due to smoking – though they were told smoking kills.

My point is this… the evidence is all around us, but many times we ignore the evidence thinking either we know better, or we are immune to the truth.

That kind of thinking isn’t anything new. I think we’ve watched way too many cartoons and have taken on the concept that though Wiley E. Coyote never catches the Roadrunner and falls off of cliffs, gets run over by trucks, trains and tanks, or gets blown up by explosives, we’ll just come back to life and everything will be OK.

Those thoughts ran through my mind as I read 2 Kings 20-22. In chapter 20, we read of King Hezekiah. He was a good king who obeyed the Lord. And then in chapter 21, we read of his son, Manasseh and then his grandson, Amon, who were both horribly evil kings. They both undid all of the good things that Hezekiah had accomplished. We’re even told that Manasseh brought all his idol gods right into the temple and worshipped them there. He worshipped the stars. He “practiced magic and witchcraft; he asked fortunetellers for advice and sacrificed his own son.” 2 Kings 21:6 CEV

Manasseh and Amon should have been paying attention to the facts. The facts were the Northern Kingdom of Israel was already defeated and they were all taken into captivity because they were so evil and unpleasing to God. And God had spoken through the prophets telling everyone, and anyone who would listen, that He was about to destroy Jerusalem and Judah. Time was running out for the Southern Kingdom. If only these kings would have realized that business as usual was killing them.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Life is fragile and bad decisions now will eventually catch up with us. By the power of the Holy Spirit in you, make a change today in whatever area you need change in. Don’t just keep living life, business as usual.

Change my heart, O God. Make it ever new. Change my heart, O God. Make it more like You. In Jesus name, Amen

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 6th, 2017 – DEVOTE

When we think of God we generally only see Him from whatever side our hearts and faith are coming from. What I mean by that is, we generally look upon God as loving, kind, and compassionate, and those things are all true. As a matter of fact we could backup each one of those attributes with Bible verses.

But there are times when life isn’t going so fair and we might have a little different perspective of God. We might question His involvement with our lives or the lack of His involvement, as if He’s left us all alone. Or we might sense His displeasure with us and feel His heavy hand on our hearts (by the way – that’s the Holy Spirit and that’s not a bad thing!)

But hardly ever do we think of God as having had enough of us and pulling the plug on us. However, I believe there does come a time when God allows us to come to the end of our rope because we have become too prideful and too arrogant. We’ve walked away from His grace and favor and though He has been calling us back, we’ve ignored His voice. He’s called us back to repentance, but we stuck our chest out, held our head high and kept walking.

Today I read the book of Nahum. It’s only three chapters, towards the end of the Old Testament. Those three little chapters tell the prophetic account of the downfall of Assyria. They were a powerful country, with mighty leaders, but they decided they didn’t need God. As a matter of fact the king of Assyria thought he was god and insulted the living God of Israel.

Now, none of that might seem all that important, until you understand a few things.

  1. The capital city of Assyria was Nineveh (now that rings a bell, doesn’t it!) Yes, this the Nineveh that Jonah went to, to tell to repent and turn to God. The whole city was saved. Assyria (Nineveh) and Israel were sworn enemies, that’s why Jonah wanted the city to be destroy and didn’t want God to save it.

  2. The book of Jonah was written between 793-753 B.C. and the book of Nahum was written shortly before 612 B.C. because that was when Nineveh collapsed. So roughly in 150 years, Nineveh lost it’s way and forgot all about God.

  3. Assyria (Nineveh) though it is no more, is in present day Iraq.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: First, remember that God wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Second, remember that the greatest gift you’ve been given is your faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t ever take that for granted or put it on the back burner of your life. Third, don’t ever believe the lie that you’re God or you can do without God. Nineveh did and lost it all!

Thank You for Nahum’s prophetic word. It’s not just history, it still has a message for our lives today. Jesus, it’s in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 5th, 2017 – DEVOTE

Though I don’t remember the exact year (somewhere around the early 1990’s), I do remember my first missions trip. It was to the beautiful country of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union, but Communism had just fallen and the Soviet Union was dissolving. It was prime time for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to infiltrate the land, since prior to that, it wasn’t allowed.

I was asked to go with a small group of pastors as we would meet local pastors from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Serbia. Over 400 pastors and church leaders came from all over. It being my first mission trip, I was totally amazed. It was exhilarating being someplace that was so thirsty and dry to hear the Good News of salvation offered by Jesus.

Though there were weight limits on our luggage (nothing like today), we brought as many Russian Bibles as we could to hand out to our new fellow pastors. We learned that it cost almost one year’s wages to purchase a Bible, so many of the local pastors didn’t even have a Bible. For many of them, if they did get their hands on a Bible, they immediately start memorizing as much as they could. I remember thinking how strange all of that sounded, since I had like 5 Bibles on my shelf at home. I never had a lack of Bibles. Actually, as a pastor, I always had an abundance of Bibles. Still do!

One day we had the great opportunity to present to our fellow pastors the Bibles we brought with. There was no way we had enough Bibles for all 400+, but those that got them eagerly shared. They would sit down in groups of 10-12 and the one with the Bible would start reading. When he was done with both sides of the page, he tore it out and handed it to the person sitting next to him. That’s right, he ripped the page right out of the book. Pastors might not have a whole Bible, but that one page gave them tremendous hope.

I tell you all of that because I think of that often when I read Mark 16:17-18. Here’s what it says…
“Everyone who believes Me will be able to do wonderful things. By using My name they will force out demons, and they will speak new languages. They will handle snakes and will drink poison and not be hurt. They will also heal sick people by placing their hands on them.” CEV

What if that was the only page of the Bible you had? If so, might might you believe about Jesus?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Read your Bible with new eyes. Don’t read it like you’ve read it before. Read it like you’ve never seen it and let it’s freshness rejuvenate you.

Give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind that perceives the wonders of Your holy Word. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

July 4th, 2017 – DEVOTE

My Bible readings for today were from 2 Kings 17 and Mark 15. These are two completely different times and accounts, but I noticed a common thread that ran through them and that same thread can still be seen today. Let me explain…

In 2 Kings 17 we are introduced to the last king of Israel. His name is Hoshea. Like many of the other kings before him, he disobeyed the Lord, but the Bible tells us…
“… but not as much as the earlier Israelite kings had done.” 2 Kings 17:2 CEV

He was the last king of Israel, because God had had enough and allowed them to be overtaken and captured by the king of Assyria. We’re told…
“All of this happened because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God.” 2 Kings 17:7 CEV

Then, when you flip your Bible open to Mark 15, we read the whole account of Jesus being brought before the ruler of the land, Pilate. There He’s questioned and given the death sentence. He’s hauled away by the soldiers, who go over and above their call of duty, by beating Jesus, spitting on Him and taking advantage of Him. The Bible says…
“When the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus…” Mark 15:20 CEV

Then Jesus is taken out to the “Place of the skull,” Golgotha and nailed to a cross as the people watch Him hang there and die. How cold blooded does that sound?

But the cruelty doesn’t stop.
“People who passed by said terrible things about Jesus.” Mark 15:29 CEV

And even…
“The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus.” Mark 15:32 CEV

It nevers seems to end! Well, actually it did. Because roughly six hours later
“Jesus shouted and then died.” Mark 15:37 CEV

So, how do those two chapters relate? One shows the ramifications of disobeying God and though they were told time and time again by the prophets what would happen, they kept right on going in the own way. The other shows the ramifications of someone who obeyed God. It cost Him His life, but that’s why He came. He came to bridge the gap between us and God so that we could be set free from our own captivity.

The first one shows us what happens when we don’t change our course and turn back to God. The second shows us the price that was paid, Who paid it, and why.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: It’s easy to live a mediocre Christian life. It’s easy to read a chapter like Mark 15 and not be moved. But not today. Here in the United States it’s the 4th of July – Independence day. It’s the day we celebrate our freedom. Because of the all-atoning work of Jesus, my friend, every day is Independence Day. Celebrate that!

Forgive me for not changing my course. Help me see the cross again in my life. Thank You for setting me free. In Jesus name I pray, Amen


P.S. As many of you might have heard, I am answering a new call on my life. My last Sunday at Lutheran Church of the Master in Brooklyn Center, MN will be July 16. Then I will be setting out and ministering to national pastors in places like Papua New Guinea, Argentina, Peru and Liberia. In order to do that I will be raising my own financial support. I will be sending you another mailing telling the story. I’d like to invite you to read the letter and if the Holy Spirit quickens your spirit, prayerfully consider providing your financial support.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen