August 17th, 2017 — DEVOTE

I love it when the Word of God is so true, straightforward and convicting. Today I read a chapter of the Bible that I’m sure most people might just read and be done with – as I’m sure I have in the past. But something caught my eye this morning that jarred a memory within me. A memory of totally undeserved love and compassion.

I believe it was the Sunday morning of my 21st birthday. Yes, that was a long time ago and yes, just in case you were wondering, I had been out the night before with my friends and we consumed way too much alcohol.

Having a throbbing headache, I remember getting up early and joining my parents for worship that Sunday morning. It was a bright sunny day… clean, fresh, spring air… with every reason to celebrate, but I was tired and hungover.

In those days we attended the worship services where my uncle was the preacher. He had a way of bringing the Word of God home in a personal way. The Holy Spirit started beating me down the moment we stepped into that building. By the time my uncle was done preaching, I was a mass of  tears. When we returned to our seats from celebrating Holy Communion, I was even worse. My mom kept asking me if everything was alright. I kept weeping and pushing her off. God’s love and compassion, His grace and mercy, were overwhelming. I so totally felt like a loser, a prodigal – wasting and squandering my God given and blessed life. His forgiveness washed over me and I knew His love covered my multitude of sins.

I thought of that as I read 2 Chronicles 30:3. It reads…
“Hezekiah sent a message to everyone in Israel and Judah… inviting them to the temple in Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover in honor of the LORD God of Israel.” CEV

Please remember that many kings have come and gone since the time the kingdoms of Israel and Judah split in two. Through those years many wars were fought… many lives were lost… much blood was shed. And now the King of Judah invited all his relatives to come worship and celebrate their oneness in the God they believed in.

Not a one of them deserved to be invited, but still they were. Sadly the Bible tells us as the messengers were sent out to every tribe to give the invitation…
“… but everyone laughed and insulted them.” 2 Chronicles 30:10 CEV

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Remember this… God’s love, mercy and grace is constantly reaching out to you. You are not unreachable. He’s still inviting you to come join Him, dine with Him and have fellowship with Him. Why not belly up to the table and join Him today?

Father,
We know we don’t deserve what You give so freely – Your grace. It is overwhelming. Forgive us for the times we laugh and are ungrateful for this free gift. Jesus, it’s in Your name we pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

August 16th, 2017 — DEVOTE


Have you ever wanted something so bad that you’d do anything to get it, even though you knew it was wrong or hurtful? As you think about it, try doing a little analysis as to why you followed through on it and you’ll probably come to the same conclusion I have… I deserved it.

Have you ever heard those word before? “I can do whatever I want!” Or “I’m entitled to it.” Or “You can’t tell me what to do, I have rights, you know.” Maybe you even heard those words, or words similar, coming out of your own mouth.

It’s not all that uncommon for the human race to have a problem with feeling they deserve special privileges. It’s been happening since the beginning of time. Think about it. It’s how Satan tricked Eve into believing that she deserved to be like God.

I thought of that today as I read about one of the kings of Judah. His name was Uzziah. He displayed the same character as Eve. He thought he was above reproach and could do whatever he wanted to do.

The Bible tells us…
“Zechariah was Uzziah’s advisor and taught him to obey God. And so, as long as Zechariah was alive, Uzziah was faithful to God, and God made him successful.” 2 Chronicles 26:5 CEV

As a matter of fact, he was a close second in wealth and fame to his great, great, great, great, great, great (and maybe a few more) grandfather, Solomon. But all of that changed. Zechariah must have died and was no longer advising Uzziah, or Uzziah just stopped listening because read this…
“Uzziah became proud of his power, and this led to his downfall. One day, Uzziah disobeyed the LORD his God by going into the temple and burning incense as an offering to Him.” 2 Chronicles 26:16 CEV

That was a job only the priest could do. They tried to stop King Uzziah, but he wouldn’t listen because he thought he could do whatever he wanted to do. When the priest tried to stop him, he got mad and when he wouldn’t stop what he was doing, leprosy broke out on his forehead. It was then, and only then, the priest forced King Uzziah out of the temple. And we read…
“Uzziah had leprosy the rest of his life.” 2 Chronicles 26:21 CEV

If we’re honest we’ll admit there are many times we think we’re entitled to something. We think that because of who we are… our position… our title… our name… we deserve certain treatment or certain rewards. In the times in which we live, we refer to that as entitlement, but it’s actually presumption, which the dictionary defines as “unwarrantable, unbecoming, or impertinent boldness.”

Truth be told, we don’t deserve anything. It’s only when we let our pride and sense of self-importance surface that we think we deserve special treatment – and that has a new name: covetousness – wanting something we shouldn’t have because it’s not ours

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t let your pride swell your head. Humbly come before your God and seek His face.

Father,
Forgive me for the times I believe I’m entitled to anything. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

From the New NLS President – Wendy Showalter

A Fresh Outpouring

As the new Board begins serving you – and we all look to work in our own “vineyards”, I send this message with love and joy.

May God unleash a fresh outpouring of His grace and goodness over your life.

May He open heaven’s doors and pour out His Spirit in increasing measures.

May He firmly establish you in His highest and best purposes for you.

May you acquire such a taste for the presence of God that you’re no longer tempted or distracted by cheap counterfeits and temporary sources.

He is the one true God and He delights in every detail of your life.

 

Wendy Showalter

NLS President

August 15th, 2017 — DEVOTE


Read this:
“We will celebrate and praise You, LORD! You are good to us, and Your love never fails. No one can praise You enough for all of the mighty things You have done.” Psalm 106:1-2 CEV

Ain’t that just the truth. I can’t even begin to praise Him for all that He’s done for me. How about you?

Maybe you find yourself like me, most of the time. I want to thank and praise my God, but what comes out of my mouth is so miniscule, so puny compared to what I really want to offer Him. Most often I feel like I have such a limited vocabulary and my words are so dull compared to the joy, peace and love I feel in my heart. I want to say “Thank You” for all that God’s done for me, but my words just aren’t enough. I want to say “Thank You” for all that God’s doing for me now, but my words just aren’t enough.

You see, when I think about all the ways things could be… I’m thankful. When I think about the ways things should be, I’m thankful. When I think about the fact that God didn’t have to provide for me my daily bread… that He didn’t have to protect me… that He didn’t have to heal me… that He didn’t have shine light on my life… that He didn’t have to strengthen me for another day… that He didn’t have to give me joy just in the nick of time… that He didn’t have to forgive me but He did anyway… all the time… every day… every moment of every day – I can’t help but be thankful!

Here’s what the Bible says…
“Our LORD, we are thankful, and we worship only You. We will tell the nations how glorious You are and what You have done.” Isaiah 12:4 CEV

Psalm 96:3 – “Tell every nation on earth, ‘The LORD is wonderful and does marvelous things!”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.”

Yes, I realize that even if I couldn’t utter a word, I can still thank God. Even if I never mumble a word, I can still give Him thanks. Even if my mouth never moves again, I can still say, “thank You, Lord!”

Because… when I raise my hands in praise, I’m telling God – thank You! When I cry tears of joy, I’m telling God – thank You. When I shout in the midst of my storm, I’m telling God – thank You. When I bow my head and dine in the presence of my enemies, I’m telling God – thank You. When I look at life and seeing another door being closed, I’m telling God – thank You.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Even if you feel like your words are stunted, microscopic, praise God with everything you have. “No one can praise You enough for all the mighty things You have done,” but I’d sure like to try! Wouldn’t you?

Father,
I give You all my praise and thanks today! You are an awesome God. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

August 14th, 2017 — DEVOTE


Can you think of someone who was given all the advantages in life, but for whatever reason, threw it all away? I think of people who were brought up in a strong Christian home, but once they got out on their own, rejected and left God out of their life. Or I think of some the professional athletes who had strong promising careers, but because of new found fame and wealth, went the wrong way and lost everything to drugs. I also can think of some strong marriages that got side swiped when they let their guard down and got involved with another person. It’s then you might find yourself asking, “How in the world could this happen? How can a person who seemingly has it all, ruin it all?”

That’s what I thought of as I read 2 Chronicles 21. King Jehoshaphat, who was a godly king, died, and because God had promised to King David that someone from his family would always be the King of Judah, Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram took over as king. Jehoram was blessed tremendously by being raised in a home where his father “obeyed the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 20:32). Jehoram was one of seven sons born to Jehoshaphat and we’re told that all of them were blessed with gold, silver and other valuable gifts.

But when Jehoram took over as king, the first thing he did was have his six brothers killed. Not only that but we’re told he married an ungodly woman who lead him further away. He disobeyed the Lord. Other nations rose up to fight against him, and though he escaped with his life, Judah was never able to regain control again. At the end of his life, God struck Jehoram with an incurable stomach disease and he died in terrible pain.

So we need to ask, how did Jehoram go from a position of great favor, to dying a painful, miserable death under the just sentence of God?

The answer to that question is actually very simple. The Bible tells us…
“Those things happened because Jehoram had turned away from the LORD…” 2 Chronicles 21:10 CEV

Jehoram outrightly rejected all that he had been taught as a child and turned away from God.

But it wasn’t only God that Jehoram had fallen out of favor with, but also the people. When he died, no one cared. As a matter of fact, they were glad to see him go. There was no honoring him in his death as there had been for previous kings. They didn’t even bury him with the other kings, but put him a common grave. Jehoram had gone from a position of knowing the truth and living in great favor and comfort to rejecting the truth, losing everything, and dying alone, slowly, painfully, and with no one who even cared.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Thank God for His involvement in your life – for saving you… forgiving you… loving you. Live that way every day!

Father,
Help me always glorify You with my life. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhause

August 11th, 2017 — DEVOTE


Remember the time you really needed faith. It might have been during a time of great stress or you were making a major move in your life – a life decision, but you knew you needed great faith. Maybe you even thought to yourself, “I need to increase my faith.” You even quoted scripture… “Lord, help my unbelief.” Maybe you read a book or listen to some preacher which encouraged your faith. It’s always good to give ourselves a checkup as to where our faith stands. But if you really want to find out the level of your faith, look at your love factor.

Why do I say that? Well, think about it. Faith isn’t just head knowledge of what the Bible says or what Jesus told us to do. Even Satan and his demons are well aware of the truth and actually believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead (James 2:19). But, if there is faith there will be a host of other attributes that will accompany that faith, one of those being love. I tell you that because of what I read in my Bible this morning. Read this…
“My dear friends, we always have good reason to thank God for you, because your faith in God and your love for each other keep growing all the time.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3 CEV  

Did you catch that? Faith produces fruit, good fruit, and that fruit is love. The man who wrote these words, Paul, understood that the church in Thessalonica was increasing their faith because their love for each other was also increasing. He would also be the one to tell his young protege, Timothy, “You must teach people to have genuine love, as well as a good conscience and true faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5). Our faith is totally in a God who showed love toward us, and though we don’t like to admit it, we were His enemies. I’ve always loved this verse… “Even when we were God’s enemies, He made peace with us, because His Son died for us” (Romans 5:10)

Unfortunately, even though we worship with others in our faith group and do Bible study together, many who are on the outside don’t see the fruit of our faith. They see just as much hate and condemnation as the rest of the world offers. Our faith in Jesus should show through our love towards those both in our sphere of influence and those we have yet to meet. Do you feel that you have a strong, growing faith, but you’re also realizing that you’re pretty conditional on loving others? So you know… you’re not alone!

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Take some time with the Lord and together search your heart. Look to see if your actions are expressing your faith in God. Do others, those you know and those you have never met, feel loved when they’re with you? Look at your love for others as a barometer for your faith in Jesus and see how it can change your life (and the lives of those around you).

By the way, have I told you lately… God not only loves you… He likes you… And He’s proud of you!

Father,
I want my faith to produce fruit, especially the fruit of love. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

August 10th, 2017 — DEVOTE


When you have a life decision to make, who do you talk to? Who do you trust to give you advice? And when you ask for someone’s opinion, do you take it at face value or do you make adjustments to it, refine it, modify it to make it your own? When you’re making a large decision and need to bounce it off somebody, are you looking for people who will tell you what they think you want to hear or are you looking for people who will tell you the truth? We probably could have done just fine without that last question!

Well, here’s why I bring this up. Today I was reading 2 Chronicles 10. King Solomon has just died and his son, Rehoboam, has taken over the throne. There’s another young man by the name of Jeroboam, who lives in the northern countries, who with a contingency of people want to have a conversation with the new king. Here’s what they say…
“Your father Solomon forced us to work very hard. But if you make our work easier, we will serve you and do whatever you ask.” 2 Chronicles 10:4 CEV

The new king wanted to think it over so asked for three day. During that time he went to some older, experienced men, who had served as trusted officials under his dad. Their advice…
“If you want them to serve and obey you, then you should be kind and promise to make their work easier.” 2 Chronicles 10:7 CEV

However, Rehoboam, didn’t like that answer. So, he went and asked his childhood friends who he had appointed as his new officials. Their advice…
“Here’s what we think you should say to them: ‘Compared to me, my father was weak. He made you work hard, but I’ll make you work even harder…’” 2 Chronicles 10:10-11 CEV

Can anyone see the disaster about to happen? Well, you guessed it. Rehoboam liked the sound of that and three days later told it to Jeroboam and all the northerners. The results: ten of the twelve tribes of Israel broke off and away, to form their own kingdom. Rehoboam was left with the countries of Judah and Benjamin.

Rehoboam did the right thing in asking for three days to think about it. He also did the right thing in asking others for their advice. But he probably should have read some of the things he dad wrote, like these…

“Fools think they know what is best, but a sensible person listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15 CEV

“Battles are won by listening to advice and making a lot of plans.” Proverbs 24:6 CEV

As a matter of fact, his dad had a lot to say about wisdom and knowledge, but evidently Rehoboam wasn’t paying any attention. This was only the beginning of years of battles.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: When seeking advice, always talk to the people who are going to tell you truth and help you do the right thing, not necessarily the thing you want to do.

Father,
Put people in my life who will tell me the truth. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

August 9th, 2017 – DEVOTE


Let me start by sharing some scripture with you today, and then I’ll get to what the Holy Spirit laid on my heart.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NASB

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17 NASB

“He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 NASB

I hope you noticed that the words “broken” or “brokenhearted” were in all three verses and was the main emphasis. The Hebrew word for “broken” carries thoughts of “crushed”, “shattered”, “smashed.” It’s a powerful word. It’s a violent word full of action.

When we think of repenting and confessing our sins, we generally don’t think in terms like these. We think of a more quiet time, a meditative moment, a silent reflection, not a earth shattering, mountain moving, rock splitting, heart crushing outburst. Could that be because we don’t believe our sin is so great? You do remember that the earth shook, there was an earthquake, the moment Jesus died and paid for all our sins, right?

Those thoughts humbly rumbled through my mind this morning as I read God’s response to King Solomon’s pray after he built the new temple and dedicated it. God appeared to Solomon in a dream and told him He heard Solomon’s prayer and then said this…
“If My own people will humbly pray and turn back to Me and stop sinning, then I will answer them from heaven. I will forgive them and make their land fertile once again.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 CEV

That first little two letter word is the clincher – “If…” Such a small insignificant word. Many times read, but seldom given much notice.

If my own people will humbly pray…

If my own people will turn back to Me…

If my own people will stop sinning…

It takes a Holy Spirit desire within us to realize our brokenness, our lostness, our need for forgiveness. It takes a Holy Spirit conviction to crush us with the weight of our sin, no matter how miniscule and unnoticeable we think our sin is. The truth is: it’s killing us. It’s killing our relationship with God and others. It’s stifling our spiritual growth and maturity. It’s rendering us useless, like salt without saltiness.

God said if we would follow the plan, then He would forgive and restore. We didn’t deserve it – it’s His grace. It’s His character. It’s His promise.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Allow the Holy Spirit… better yet… ask the Holy Spirit to check every aspect of your life and like King David, “Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking.” (Psalm 139:23 CEV). Then allow the love and forgiveness of God to wash over you and restore you. Let Him heal your broken heart!

Father,
Thank You for loving me the way I am, but not allowing me to stay the way I am. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

August 8th, 2017 – DEVOTE

Today I was reading about the completion of the temple Solomon was building for God in Jerusalem. This place must have been spectacular with gold walls, ceilings and floors. We actually read that…
“There were so many bronze furnishings that no one ever knew how much bronze it took to make them.” 2 Chronicles 4:18 CEV.

But what stands out most to me is the layout of the temple and the main attraction – the altar. You need to know, the idea behind the Hebrew word for altar is essentially, “the killing place.” I know you probably knew that, but may have forgotten it.

The altar was the place of sacrifice. It was the center of the worship service for the priests and for all the people of Israel. So when you entered this temple, the first main object you would meet was the altar in the sanctuary court. Every time they entered the sanctuary, they were reminded that in order to approach God there needed to be a sacrifice. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22). Blood needed to be shed in order for the people to be made right with God. That was all accomplished on the altar. An innocent third party gave up it’s life, made the sacrifice, for theirs.

Many churches still have altars in them. Some are finely decorated. No more bloody sacrifices. Some churches have gone away from the altar – no longer a necessary furnishing.

In a sense we have an altar. Our altar – our “killing place” – is the cross, where Jesus died for our sins and we follow by dying to self and living for Him. Sadly, many churches have eliminated the cross as well so as not to make anyone feel uneasy. But let’s be remind again, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22). We needed that innocent third party between God and ourselves, to be sacrificed.

When you wear that cross around your neck, or have a cross on your shirt or cap, you’re making a statement about the “killing place.” It was a bloody mess. It was a disgusting necessity. Without it you and I would still be trying to make things right between us and God and to no avail. We would never be able to do enough to appease the wrath of God for our sin and we would have absolutely no hope of eternity.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Thank God we don’t have to still make animal sacrifices to Him to account for our sins. Jesus sacrifice was the last sacrifice needed. His blood paid in full your account… my account… everyone’s account, from the beginning of time – till the end of time. Don’t ever be ashamed to display your cross – your killing place – because He took your place.

Father,
Thank You for sending Jesus to be our One and Only needed sacrifice. Jesus, we will never be embarrassed to display our love and gratitude for what You did on our behalf. It’s with a heart of love and joy for You, we pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

August 7th, 2017 — DEVOTE


This morning my Bible reading included 2 Chronicles 1-3. King David has died and his son Solomon has taken over the reign as king of Israel. Solomon wanted to worship God at a place called Gibeon, which was the old worship place, before he started building the new worship place in Jerusalem.

He gathered everyone together and told them they were taking a little road trip to Gibeon to make some sacrifices to the Lord. It was there that God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked Solomon to  ask for anything he wanted and God would give it.

Solomon asked for wisdom which honored God and God told him He would not only give him wisdom, but also wealth and would make him famous.

As Solomon started making plans for the building of the temple in Jerusalem, he inquired about supplies and a workforce from one of his dad’s old friends, the king of Tyre. And here’s what he said that really caught my attention…
“This will be a great temple, because our God is greater than all other gods. No one can ever build a temple large enough for God – even the heavens are too small a place for Him to live in! All I can do is build a place where we can offer sacrifices to Him.” 2 Chronicles 2:6 CEV

Isn’t that powerful? To think of the enormity of God. His vastness can’t be contained even in the expanse of the universe. His greatness and immenseness are far beyond our very limited imagination. How we could ever think of containing God in a bottle like a genie, is beyond me. The picture in my mind cannot even comprehend the hugeness of our God

And yet, this very same God who is larger than life itself, humbly came in the form of man and lived among us. His name was Jesus. He left His glory and entered into our world, to become one of us and associating Himself with us – our pain… our lostness… to be able to deal with and fix our brokenness.

But listen to this! Jesus said…
“If you love Me, you will do as I command. Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you. The Spirit will show you what is true. The people of this world cannot accept the Spirit, because they don’t see or know Him. But you know the Spirit, who is with you and will keep on living in you.” John 14:15-17 CEV

Did you catch that? This massive, monumental, magnificent God has taken up residence in you! God lives in you.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: You are never alone! God’s Spirit lives in you and will stay with you. Always! He has taken up residence in you so you will remember who you are and whose you are! You are a child of the Living God.

Father,
Live in me today. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen