November 15th, 2017 – DEVOTE

So, I’m going through a bit of a tough spot right now, if I were to be honest with you. I just found out one of my best friends from college died. He was only 60 years old. He had a lot of problems, over a good many years, and now he’s gone. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but I can never step in anymore… I can’t help anymore… I can’t change anything, anymore.

And after finding that out, it was then I read Acts chapter 4. Towards the end of the chapter it reads like this…
“The group of followers all felt the same way about everything. None of them claimed that their possessions were their own, and they shared everthing they had with each other. In a powerful way the apostles told everyone that the Lord Jesus was now alive. God greatly blessed His followers, and no one went in need of anything. Everyone who owened land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles. Then they would give the money to anyone who needed it. Joseph was one of the followers who had sold a piece of property and brought the money to the apostles. He was a Levite from Cyprus, and the apostles called him Barnabas, which means “one who encourages others.” Acts 4:32-35 CEV

At first this almost sounds surreal. I mean, who would do this sort of thing? Who would sell land, or even their own house so that everyone else was taken care of? And the answer is, someone like Joseph, or better known as Barnabas.

Barnabas must have been the kind of guy who couldn’t help but give a helping hand… he couldn’t help but sacrifice his own stuff so that others were taken care of… he couldn’t just stand back and watch others be in need, because he knew how much God loved him. He knew he had to do something to help others. He knew that if he didn’t do something, it might not happen.

Here’s my word of encouragemenrt for you today: Don’t waste any more time. You have probably had a Barnabas in your life at some point – someone who went over and above the call of duty and helped you out. They were there when you needed a helping hand. They sacrificed freely to take care of your needs. They put themselves out so that you could openly recieve.

Now it’s your turn. Be a Barnbas. Yes, it will cost you more than you thought you could possibly give, but don’t think twice. God will take care of you. With the love of Jesus in your heart, take care of those around you.

Thank You for putting Barnabas’ in my life. Thank you for their generosity. Help me to be Barnabas willingly and with openhandedness to those who need me. Help me to give as You, Jesus, have given to me. It’s in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

November 14th, 2017 – DEVOTE

As I was reading the Word this morning, a commercial popped into my head. It’s the Capital One credit card commercial. The actor, Alec Baldwin, was the main character, and the question that was always asked was, “What’s in your wallet?” Of course, what they wanted to hear was their credit card was in your wallet and readily usable at any given moment.

I know, I know, I really do think of some pretty weird things when I’m reading the Word, but I just couldn’t shake that scene nor could I forget those words when I read this…
“The man stared at them and thought he was going to get something. But Peter said, ‘I don’t have any silver or gold! But I will give you what I do have.’” Acts 3:6 CEV

Let me fill in the blanks for you. The Bible tells us it was 3:00 p.m. and Peter and John were heading to the temple, because it was time to pray. At the temple there was a man, by the gate of the temple, who was dropped off  every day because he couldn’t walk. All day long he sat at the gate trying to catch a sympathetic heart who would give me some food, or some money. This wasn’t about pride, it was totally about survival. He wanted to live and he found out the best place to do that was by the church doors where he would find religious people who would give him a hand.

“Give him a hand,” was exactly what he got the day Peter and John showed up. When they arrived, this paralyzed man unashamedly ask them for money. They saw the man… they heard the man… they even asknowledged the man. They told him, “Look at us!” The Bible then says, “The man stared at them and thought he was going to get something.” (Acts 3:5 CEV). He was going to get something alright. More than had ever thought. Peter said,
“‘In the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, get up and start walking.’ Peter then took him by the right hand and helped him up.” Acts 3:6-7 CEV

Next thing you know, this guy is running and jumping all over in the temple, probably with the biggest smile on his face, laughing hesterically, and people are stunned because they’ve only known him as the disabled beggar.

So let me ask you… what’s in your wallet? Peter didn’t have anything… as a matter of fact, he probably didn’t even have a wallet. But he had something far more valuable. His faith in Jesus Christ.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Who in your world needs someone, like you, to reach out and help them up. I’m not talking about what you don’t have… I’m talking about what you do have – your faith in the Son of God and the Son of Man – His name is Jesus.

Help me give away that which You have given to me – my faith! In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

November 13th, 2017 – DEVOTE

So maybe what we need to do is have a little refresher course as to what is the “church”. I say that because though we say the right things, we generally talk about something else. Let me explain.

We tell each other we are the church, you and I and those who confess faith in Jesus Christ. But then, we constantly refer to a building where we hold worship services, Sunday School, all our other programs as the “church”. We say things like, “I’m going to church.” Or “I belong to such an such a church.”

And what happens is we take all the responsibility, rights and privileges we have as the body of Christ, the “church”, and we give it to a building. So when things happen that we don’t like, we blame the “church.” We get angry at the church… we’re saddened by the church… we’re frustrated with the church and how it acts or reacts. But you and I are the church, so how can this be? When those things which we don’t like happen, do we get mad at ourselves? Are we saddened about ourselves? Or are we frustrated with ourselves at our lack of concern, focus or mission? And the answer to that is probably, “No.” We take it out on the leaders, or the pastor, because we’ve lost sight of who the church is.

So, since you’re the church, how can you have a healthy church? Let me quickly give you four easy things to remember….

A church inspired by the Holy Spirit is devoted to these four things..

  1. The Word of God – read it, study it, meditate on it by yourself and with others and you’ll have a healthy church.

  2. Spend time with those who are looking for the same thing and living the same way. You can feed off of them and they’ll be encouraged by you and you’ll have a healthy church.

  3. Commune with each other – worship, which includes repentance, confession, forgiveness and partake of the Lord’s Supper with each other seeking God’s amazing grace and you’ll have a healthy church.

  4. Pray – pray with each other and for each other and you’ll have a healthy church.

And just so you know, these are four proven methods to having a healthy church. Who wrote them, and where did they come from?

Acts 2:42 – “They spent their time learning from the apostles, and they were like family to each other. They also broke bread and prayed together.” CEV

And they didn’t even have a building!

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: You are the church. Asking you where you go to church is the wrong question. The real question is, where’s the church going?

Remember… where you go the church goes… what you say the church says… what you do the church does, because you are the church.

Help me represent the church to the world around me. I have taken all the responsibility off of myself and placed it on a building. Forgive me. Holy Spirit, help me be the church! In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

November 10th, 2017 – DEVOTE

We hear it all the time. Sometimes it comes out of our own mouths. And it’s so very easy to do. What am I referring too? I’m talking about complaining! If that word didn’t catch your attention, would it help if I used a different word like: grumble, gripe, nag, bellyache, growl, or snivel. Any of those help paint a picture for you? Can you hear me now?

It’s so easy to find just about anything to complain about, because it’s everywhere. I took the opportunity to see if I could find any stories on Google about people complaining. Here are just a handful of them…

A customer at a hotel on an island complained that the “sound of the sea was irritating.” He asked if the hotel staff “could stop it.”

One traveler was disappointed that it was too cold to ski in Japan during winter.

Another grumbled that Singapore was too hot and lacked fresh air.

A utility company received a call from a customer complaining about the exceptionally high quality of customer service. The customer suggested that less money be spent on staff training and the savings put to reducing customer bills.

A cruise ship customer expressed her disappointment with her inside cabin not having a window to the sea.

A couple on a cruise said the service was so excellent that they spent a lot more money on tips than they expected, and wanted their gratuities to be refunded.

The only thing you get from complaining, is more complaints. When we complain we’re only practicing for our next complaint. And here’s where it get even more interesting. After we’ve mastered our complaining, we move from things to people and we start cutting people down instead of lifting them up. It’s much easier to do and we’ve even convinced ourselves it makes us feel better. Well of course it does, because it puts them down and raises me up.

Here’s why I’m sharing this with you today. I read this in the Word…
“These people grumble and complain and live by their own selfish desires. They brag about themselves and flatter others to get what they want.” Jude 16 CEV

Another Bible verse tells us…
“Don’t grumble about each other or you will be judged, and the Judge is right outside the door.” James 5:9 CEV

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Today in prayer, confess any constant grumbling in your own life and seek to find peace in Jesus Christ. Maybe there’s a constant sore spot that you keep going back to, that you actually need to let go of. Watch the words coming out of your mouth, because your complaints are really not about things or people, but about God.

Put a watch on my mouth this day. Help me to speak words of hope and encouragement. Help me to lift up and not tear down. Thank You for all that you’ve given to me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

November 10th, 2017 — DEVOTE

Ok, so don’t answer this out loud… but have you ever left a worship service, having really enjoyed it, but you couldn’t remember a word the preacher said? Once again, you  don’t have to anwer that out loud!!!

I thought of that today as I read these words from the Bible…
“So they all come and listen to you, but they refuse to do what you tell them. They claim to be faithful, but they are forever trying to cheat others out of their money. They treat you as though you were merely singing love songs or playing music. They listen, but don’t do anything you say.” Ezekiel 33:31-32 CEV

Just so you know, this prophet Ezekiel acted out most of his messages. He was probably more entertaining than most spoken sermons. We get the impression that he may have even played an instrument to deliver his messages. But, inspite of all his attempts, the people around him never heard a word he said.

Take a look at this group of people during Ezekiel’s time and compare them with today, and see if there’s any resemblance…

They came for the music more than the message.

They came for entertainment rather than real heartfelt worship.

They were distracted by other concerns, motivations, and priorities, rather than God’s.

They listened to God’s word, but didn’t do it.

God’s word is meant to be life-changing. Always has been – always will. Jesus saw the lack of life-change in His audiences as well. He told the parable of the wise man who built his house on a rock, and the foolish man who built his house on the sandy beach. Hard rain fell on both parties, but only the house built on the rock prevailed against the storm. The difference? The wise man not only heard God’s word but obeyed it. His work of building was harder, to begin with, but he laid an indestructible foundation.

In the book of James, we read the same situation. James knew the problem people had who didn’t live according to God’s word. He compared them to people who look in a mirror and then walk away and forget what they look like. In other words… the Word of God revealed the truth to them, but as soon as they heard it, they forgot it. James went on to say that the person who disregards God’s Word is really deceiving themselves, while the person who keeps God’s Word is blessed.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Some people go to worship for tradition, some because of habit, some for socializing, and some others for the emotional lift it gives them. When you go to worship this weekend, make sure you go prepared to worship, learn, go and do. Make sure you let God’s Word change your life. Don’t just listen to the sermon – be the sermon. Think about it, talk about it, remember it, and apply it.

Let You Word change my life. Holy Spirit, help me not only hear the Word, but be a doer of the Word. Jesus in Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

November 8th, 2017 – DEVOTE

So, now that I’m am not receiving a salary from a church, but raising my own funds to do ministry, I feel like I can speak out about how much or how little pastors, christian teachers, christian workers actually get paid.

Let me start here. If I need to call in an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter, or take my car to a mechanic, I’m usually astounded at how much the estimate or bill comes to. As you well know, it’s not the materials that cost so much, but the labor. As much as I may not like it, I pay the bill because I don’t have the expertise or knowledge to do it myself.

And here’s the rub. Most christian people know something about the Bible, at varying degrees, but because they have read some of the Bible, or even most of it, and have heard numerous sermons, and have read a score of books, they believe they’re experts, professionals, skilled theologians and know how to run the church, lead the church, and though they don’t like to stand up in front of crowds, they are critical about how the pastor preaches or teaches. Though they can’t do it any better, they believe it’s their right and privilege as a member to voice their displeasure on how he/she speaks and leads.

And it’s in that mindset that a pastor, a teacher, a christian worker’s salary is formed. Many churches have a pay scale of some kind to help churches determine how much they should pay their staff. It’s based on how many years of experience they have, how many members are in the congregation, the geographical area, and other similar factors. But very few, look at a these salaries from a Biblical standpoint.

Here’s what the Bible says…
“Church leaders who do their job well deserve to be paid twice as much, especially if they work hard at preaching and teaching.” 1 Timothy 5:17 CEV

According to the Bible, and we’re all Bible believing people, there’s a double honor to be given to the church leader who preaches and teaches, not because their special or an elite class of Christian. No, the double honor is not even given to the person. The double honor is given as an investment into the preparation and communication of the precious Word of God.The double honor is given to the church leader who will devote themselves to prayer and the Word of God without the distraction of secular employment.    

Here’s what you should expect from the church leader who deserves the double portion…

They must hear from God the message God wants given.

They must prepare the message through study and meditation to ensure the Biblical accuracy of everything they say.

They must prepare the message for the clearest and best communication possible.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Pray for you pastor, your teacher, your church leader and today consider God’s approach to giving them the double honor. You’ll reap the benefits.

Thank You for those who serve You for us. Help us to honor them rightly. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.    

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

November 7th, 2017 – DEVOTE

A couple of weeks ago, when we had our first snow, one of our trees broke off about 30 feet up and came crashing down. It’s happened before without any damage, but this time we had some trouble.

As the tree came down, a big branch from the top broke off, and came crashing through the roof of my workshop. It pierced the tin roof and sheathing like it were a piece of paper. But it didn’t stop there either. Upon impact another branch broke off, sliding down the roof and went through the window of my van. It didn’t take much to figure out what happened. All you had to do was look at the branches sticking out of the roof and the window.

I went to get some replacement tin, but was told it would be a couple of weeks before it came, as it was special order. However, it came within a few days and this last Saturday I climbed up on the roof, replaced the sheathing and the tin roof needed.

Now I want you to know, I’m not really keen on heights. I’m not afraid of heights at all. I do have a heightened sense of awareness though, as to where the ground is and how fast I might hit it if I make the wrong decision if you know what I mean?

I remember thinking as I climbed my ladder, hoisting a piece of tin up with me, “Be careful. Take your time. Don’t fall! Remember, it’s not the falling that hurts… it’s the landing!” I probably told myself that a dozen times.

I was just about finished. I had only a couple of screws to put in as I edged my way to the top crest when it happened. I slipped on the cold, wet tin. Since I was close to the top, I reached out and grabbed the top crown, preventing me from going any further. I stopped. Took a deep breath. Gathered my thoughts. Finished screwing the tin down and then carefully and swiftly got off that roof!

So why do I tell you that harrowing story? You got it… it came to mind after I read these words from Scripture…
“Be careful about the way you live and about what you teach. Keep on doing this, and you will save not only yourself but the people who hear you.” 1 Timothy 4:16 CEV

This was the advice of the older, more experienced, seasoned, Apostle Paul, to his young intern, Timothy. Paul knew that it only took one slip in judgment… one misstep in character… one indiscretion… one mouthed blunder, to ruin an entire ministry.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Watch your step. Be careful. Your life and the life of others watching you are on the line. Live for Jesus every day. Live as if He’s with you every moment of every day. Protect your witness and guard your faith. Keep doing this and you will save not only yourself, but the people who hear you and see you.

Guard my every step this day. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

November 6th, 2017 – DEVOTE

So, we’ve all heard the joke about pastors and how little they work, right? Supposedly, we only work one hour on Sunday mornings, so how hard of a job could this really be? For some reason, no one is quite sure what a pastor does with all the rest of his/her time. Pretty cushy job having to sit behind your desk and write a sermon once a week… make a few phone calls… maybe lead a Bible Study… and visit a few people in the hospital or homebound. And we all know there are benefits to making those homebound visits, like fresh cookies.

I share that because of what I read in 1 Timothy 3 today. Here’s what it says in verse one…
“It is true that anyone who desires to be a church official wants to be something worthwhile.” 1 Timothy 3:1 CEV

Most often when we read that verse, we don’t think much of it and we quickly go on to the next verses describing the qualities and character of this church official. I won’t take the time here to explain the in-depth meaning of word church official, but please understand it is someone who is in a place of spiritual leadership. The problem is we don’t fully understand what Paul is saying to Timothy or why Paul is saying this to Timothy.

So let me fill you in. This book of the Bible was written when Nero was the Emperor and he hated the Christians and persecuted them relentlessly. Leaders like James, Peter, and Paul himself would all be put to death by this guy. Think about it. About five years after Paul had written this to this young pastor, himself and two other spiritual leaders were put to death.

When we read this verse we might think of some of the big name pastors today or those who fill the auditoriums or sanctuaries of our churches. We might think of how good they have it and forget all about the spiritual leaders in non-Christian countries whose lives are on the line every day or those who were martyred.

A spiritual leader in Timothy’s day was in constant danger and faced the real threat of persecution and maybe even losing his life. They didn’t have the luxury of looking forward to speaking in front a packed house or have a book signing – they looked forward to hardship and constant struggle, laying everything down for the sake of the Gospel.

I’m reminded of what Jesus told His disciples…
“If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be everyone’s slave. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give His life to rescue many people.” Mark 10:43b-45 CEV

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Please remember to pray for your pastor. Lift him/her up that they lead with all their heart, mind, soul and spirit for the sake of the Gospel.

We have very little persecution here because of our faith. But others are laying down their lives for You. We lift them before You today and ask Your hand of protection and providence in their lives. Jesus, in Your name we ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

November 3rd, 2017 – DEVOTE

When our youngest daughter and I were in Papua New Guinea last May/June, she told me about a study she had read concerning smiling and the many positive effects it can have on a person.

We all know from experience that smiling can transform the world around you. Doesn’t matter if you’re walking down the street, in a crowded elevator, or on the road. Smiling is contagious. I often watch my wife with little babies. She talks with them in this high, soft voice and has the hugest smile on her face. It’s as if she’s coaching that little baby in the art of smiling, wanting them to respond in like manner.

They say smiling makes us look more attractive. It lifts our mood and the mood of those around us. Studies also show it can lengthen our lives. So before you go any further – slap a smile on your face. You can thank me later.

Each time you smile you actually throw a little party in your brain. The act of smiling activates transmitters in your brain that relaxes your body, can slow down your heart rate and drop your blood pressure. Those same transmitters act as natural pain relievers, with no side effects. Probably the most important, when you smile serotonin is released which serves as an antidepressant. It’s all built right into your smile. How cool it that?

I hope I’m not boring you. Let me tell you a little bit more. When you smile you’re actually better looking (and I’m not blowing smoke at you!) When you smile, people treat you differently. The studies say you’re more attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere.

I also read that there’s a part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expressions and when you see someone smiling, without even thinking about it, you automatically mimic their expression.

So why do I tell you all of this? Here’s what I read in the Bible this morning…
“Our God, make us strong again! Smile on us and save us.” Psalm 80:3; 7, 19 CEV

Did you see that? The writer of these words asked God to “smile on us.” And he doesn’t say it just once… he says it three times. Why? What did he know about the effects of a smile? And how much different, how powerful to think of God smiling on us. What effect would that have?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Smile! Not just because you can, but because it’s good for you. Smile because it’s good for those around you. Smile because God is smiling on you and you can’t help but smile back. And then when people ask you what you’re smiling about just tell them it’s a natural reaction from God smiling on you!

Smile on us today. Fill our hearts, minds, soul, and spirit with your joy. And help us smile more, sharing it with those around us. In Jesus name, we ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

November 2nd, 2017 – DEVOTE

Back on September 3rd, my bride’s birthday, our parked car was hit by another driver. No one was it in, so no one was hurt. The cost to fix the car in comparison to it’s worth didn’t equal out, so the insurance company totalled our car. Funny thing was, we just paid it off, like five months before. And of course, the insurance company didn’t give us what we thought our car was worth. It wasn’t an expensive car… or even a luxury car… but it was our car that we hoped to drive for many years yet to come.

During the weeks that followed, I looked at many cars. Cars I found on the internet… cars along the side of the road… cars being sold by dealerships. I knew what I was looking for, but I just couldn’t find it. I had only a limited amount of money from the payoff, so wanted to stick as close to that figure as possible. I kept hitting roadblocks.

I found a couple of cars I really liked. They were the right color… they had the size engine I was looking for… they had those things my bride wanted in a car… plus they had low mileage.

But every time I sat down with the dealer or owner of the car, we couldn’t agree upon a price. One dealer, whose car had really caught my eye, wouldn’t budge from his asking price. We weren’t far away from each other, but I knew how much I had and how far I was willing to go and when to stop. He kept wanting me to match his price because he knew I really liked the car and he was pretty sure I’d just give in and agree to pay what he wanted.

When I finally reached over his desk to shake his hand, and thank him for his time, getting ready to walk away from his car, he asked me if I was seriously going to walk away? I looked at him and told I was. He even asked me why, since I really like the car? Here’s what I told him, “Everything I have belongs to God. My wife and family… my home… my cars… even my money. I’m going to have to give an account one day of what I did with what He gave me, and I want to be able to tell my God, I used it wisely without spending more than I had.

Here’s what we’re reminded of in the Bible…
“The earth and everything on it belong to the LORD. The world and its people belong to Him.” Psalm 24:1 CEV

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today; It’s true… It all belongs to God. Use whatever He gives you in the best way possible. Use it knowing it’s been given to you by the One who owns it all.

Thank You for what I have and what I don’t have. Help me to use what You’ve given me wisely. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.  

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen