I don’t watch a whole lot of sports on TV, especially professional sports. It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s just that it takes so much time. It consumes 3-4 hours and I generally always have something else I’ve got to do or something else I want to do – that might even include taking a nap.
The other thing I’ve notice about sports is the number of “armchair quarterbacks” there are. You know the person who knows exactly what the players and coaches should be doing but they themselves are not doing it or could not do it. Doesn’t matter if it’s the commentator on the TV, the friend on Facebook, or family or friend in my house. Sometimes, I take the role myself.
But it doesn’t stop with professional athletes. Once we get used to being so critical, we criticize our President, our boss, our teacher, our pastor, other christians. It’s very easy to become cynical about what others are or are not doing without actually making a difference ourselves. But the saying proves to still be true… “If you’re not part of the solution… you are the problem.” And just so you know, being an “armchair quarterback” is never part of the solution.
One of Jesus’ disciples, James, wrote this for us to ponder and remember, especially when we want to be critical but unwilling to help make a difference. He wrote…
“Are any of you wise or sensible? Then show it by living right and by being humble and wise in everything you do.” James 3:13 CEV
James was telling us that our wisdom and understanding aren’t going to be seen by our words or our criticism of others, but by being “humble and wise in everything” we do.
Everytime and anytime we see the good that should be happening and critique others, yet we don’t move a muscle, we are responsible and accountable. James went on to write in chapter four, verse seventeen, “If you don’t do what you know is right, you have sinned.”
It’s easy sitting on the “sidelines” and complaining about what others are not doing or are doing wrongly in your opinion, instead of rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty.
So, here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t be an “armchair quarterback.” Get up… get involved… help… assist… provide… boost… reinforce… encourage… serve… support – OK, you probably get the idea!
Forgive me for sitting back and watching others do Your work and then criticize what they’re doing. Holy Spirit, help me get in the game, use my gifts and build Your kingdom. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
Here’s the words from the Bible that jumped off the page and hit me smack in the face today…
“Daniel answered, ‘Your Majesty, I hope you live forever! My God knew that I was innocent, and He sent an angel to keep the lions from eating me. Your Majesty, I have never done anything to hurt you.” Daniel 6:21-22 CEV
If you don’t remember the account, let me fill you in. The favor of God rested on this guy, Daniel, because Daniel had great faith in God. Even though he was in a foreign land, God used him mightily and opened so many doors of opportunity for him.
In Daniel 6 there were some men who didn’t like Daniel, so they coerced the king to write a decree that said that if anyone prayed to anyone other than the king, they would be thrown into a lion’s den and left for meat. At first, it sounded good to the king. Without thinking the whole thing through, however, the king wrote the declaration and signed it into law.
But Daniel still prayed to God. As a matter of fact, Daniel had a habit, a good habit, of kneeling down and praying three times a day. His enemies knew that and turned him into the king. And even though the king didn’t want to follow through on his new law because he really liked Daniel, he had to do it.
Daniel was in the lion’s den alright, but the the lions left him alone all night long. It wasn’t because they were godly lions either. They were regular, normal lions, who given the opportunity to eat anything, would. But the Bible tells us there was an angel in the lion’s den with Daniel and those lions didn’t want to mess with him. I’m thinking Daniel even had a pretty good nights sleep.
Now that’s real peace. Being able to lay your head on your pillow at night, knowing and believing that all is well. That God is still in charge… He is still on His throne… And He is in complete control of your life.
Are you in a lion’s den today? A place you’d rather not be? A predicament that has left you wondering how you got there? Do you have some enemies that are trying to defeat you. Your worst enemy, “the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack” (! Peter 5:8). And that someone is you!
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t get distracted from the purpose God has placed in your heart. Be like Daniel. Stay focused. Keep your priorities… keep on praying… keep on living for Jesus each and every day… keep on claiming the promises of God… keep on trusting God to bring you through the toughest ordeals, because He will! Remember, those lions might be able to eat your body, but they can’t touch your faith!
I won’t be distracted by the teeth of the lion today, because I know You’re near. I’m safe and protected by You. Thank You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
I remember back in the day when our children were younger, we had a conversation van. We made many a trip in that van. Probably one of the highlights of that van, and for many families today, was the TV and at that time a VCR. Our children watched a lot of movies while we were on the road. There was always a movie playing.
Today, most cars come with separate audio systems for the front and back so that passengers can listen to different music.
I saw a new stocking cap that has a very small speaker built right into it and is bluetooth ready so you can connect to your phone and listen to whatever your heart desires.
There aren’t too many days that go by that I don’t see somebody with a set of earphones or earbuds in their ears.
I also saw a little infomercial the other day about a couple who went wilderness camping but they were unable to sleep because it was too quiet and they had an app on their phone that played soothing city noises of traffic and horns blowing in order to fall asleep.
Ok, let me tell you one more. I read this lately on the internet. In 1968 there was a man whose job was to record nature sounds for films and television. He would pack up all his recording equipment, hike out into the woods, drop off his gear, and then return sometime later for the undisturbed recordings of nature. Back then, in 1968, in order to get one hour of undisturbed sound, which meant no planes, no sirens, no human presence, it would take 15 hours of recording time. Today that same man continues to record, but in order for him to get 1 hour of unaffected nature sounds, it take 2000 hours of recording time.
What am I trying to tell you? We live in a loud world. There is so much noise going on all around us, all the time. Many people feel totally uncomfortable when there is no noise. It’s difficult to be in the silence.
I thought of that as I read Psalm 85 today and especially verse 8…
“I will listen to You, LORD God, because You promise peace to those who are faithful and no longer foolish.” Psalm 85:8 CEV
Many of us want the same things this writer wants… we want to hear what God has to say to us, because we know from experience that whatever He says will bring peace into our lives. But how can we ever expect to hear God speak when our ears are filled with all the sounds of this world?
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Ask yourself, when was the last time you intentionally sat in complete silence just to listen to God speak to you? There are time when God will speak to us through the loud noises of today, but there are other times when He’ll show up in the dead of silence, if we’re willing to listen.
I will listen to You today! In Jesus name I pray this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
All you have to do is start reading Lamentations chapter 3 and you soon realize you just have more of the same first two chapters. This guy, the guy writing this stuff, is really in the dumps. His life has been hard and he’s spilling it all out, recalling much of it. His heart is heavy, his mind is unstable, and you can tell it.
Ever met anybody like that? When you start having a conversation with them, they talk about the injustices, the tragedies of days gone by. It’s as if they’re stilling living them. They talk about the suffering, the loss, the attacks, the hardships, the hurt and the pain. It’s very real though it may have happened decades ago. It’s kind of like they’re still living it.
That’s what it sounds like when you read Lamentations 3. The prophet says things like…
“He (that’d be God) chased me into a dark place, where no light could enter.” Lamentations 3:2 CEV
“He forced me to sit in the dark like someone long dead.” Lamentations 3:6 CEV
“God built a fence around me that I cannot climb over, and He chained me down.” Lamentations 3:7
This guy’s life is a mess. He’s hurting. He’s lonely. He says…
“I cannot find peace or remember happiness.” Lamentations 3:17 CEV
“That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed.” Lamentations 3:20 CEV
Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there now. It’s as if whatever happened, whenever it happened, stunted your life and that part of your life is still locked in that moment of time. You lost something and you’ll never be able to get it back. Believe me, I’ve lived it.
But most often here’s the difference. Unlike the prophet, we stay there – he didn’t! And truthfully, what’s happened is we’ve learned to stay in our rut, to stay there and live there. But here’s what the prophet said after all his lamenting…
“Then I remember something that fills me with hope. The LORD’s kindness never fails! If He had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning. Deep in my heart I say, ‘The LORD is all I need; I can depend on Him!’” Lamentations 3:21-24 CEV
Listen to me… if you woke up this morning and you’re still here – God has plans for you today. He is faithful. He is kind. He is merciful. He’s not forgotten about you or turned His back on you. He made a promise to be with you always, and believe it or not, He’s keeping it.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Join in with the prophet. He says in chapter 3, verse 40, “… we should think about the way we are living and turn back to the LORD.” That’s a great place to start today – to start living the way He intended you to live. Rise up man of God! Rise up woman of God!
Capture our attention today. Draw us close to You. In Jesus name we ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
Well I’m just going to have to do it again. I’m going to have to use that three letter word. It’s better than one of those four letter words, but still, no one likes to hear this one, at least not many do these days. It seems to almost be outdated, as if it doesn’t pertain to us anymore because we’ve mastered it. I’m talking about sin. That’s what I thought about when I read this verse…
“Your prophets deceived you with false visions and lying messages – they should have warned you to leave your sins and be saved from disaster.” Lamentations 2:14 CEV
Listen, if I don’t have a sin problem, then the truth is I don’t need a sin solution. And just so we’re all clear on this… sin is not doing what God says we should do (James 4:17 – “If you don’t do what you know is right, you have sinned) and is doing what God says not to do (Romans 7:7 – “… if it had not been for the Law, I would not have known what sin is really like.”). Sin is disobeying God, and that has ramifications – “Sin pays off with death.” Romans 6:23
Until I see how deceptive sin is, that the joy I get from it is only but a brief moment, and that it’s deadly and totally destructive, that it corrupts from the inside out, I have no need for the solution that Jesus offers me.
What I really need to do is pray for my sin to be exposed. Let me see if I can illustrate. Every once in awhile I can feel a cold sore coming on my lip. I know where this going because I’ve experienced it so many times before. But instead of me trying to hide it, what I really need it to do is run its course so I can get it out of me. I know everyone is going to see it, and their eyes are going to be drawn to it when we talk, but I really need it out of me. The same is true for sin. I really need it out me and that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. If I don’t feel the agony of my sin anymore, it’s probably because I’ve shut down the Holy Spirit’s work in me and no longer feel convicted of my sin.
But once I recognize my sin problem, I want a solution. Like that cold sore, I want to apply a medication that will relieve me of malady. So that you know… there is only one solution to our sin problem. His name is Jesus. He gave us the victory. He paid for our sin. He made all things new again.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Whatever you do – don’t ignore sin. It will kill you. Ask the Holy Spirit to do what He does best – show you the real you. You’ll never regret it!
For Jesus sake, show me my sin and forgive me this day. Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
You’ve heard me say that generally I only read one Book and that being the Bible. It’s my source of hope, strength, and knowledge. It fills me up each day and points me in the direction I’m destined to go in. To this day I have not grown tired of reading it, and I don’t plan on it in the future.
But occasionally, (and let me emphasize – occasionally), I will pick up a book and read. Now, I’m not the guy who necessarily likes to read mysteries, or romantic type novels. I’m not into sci-fi or adventure stories. I’ve read Westerns but am not drawn to them. Probably not going to read a book of poetry. If I’m going to read a book, it’s probably going to be a book that will help me learn something I don’t already know. I’ll probably read about a study that was done in the church world and it’s findings. I like reading statistics and percentages.
I tell you that because I want you to know that I’ve just entered into the book of Lamentations in my Bible reading. The name alone sounds dreary. Most attribute the writing of this book to Jeremiah and it makes sense as we coined him “the weeping prophet.” This is a book expressing deep sorrow about the destruction of Jerusalem.
The prophet who wrote this book realized that Jerusalem was being punished because its people had sinned, tremendously, though being warned to stop, over and over again. To the prophet, the suffering seemed greater than what their sins deserved. In the first chapter he uses phrases like…
“The Lord has punished Jerusalem because of her awful sins; He has let her people be dragged away.” Lamentations 1:5 CEV
“Zion’s glory has disappeared…” Lamentations 1:6 CEV
“Her sins had made her filthy, but she wasn’t worried about what could happen.” Lamentations 1:9 CEV
“The Lord was right, but I refused to obey Him.” Lamentations 1:18 CEV
“I’ve lost all hope…” Lamentations 1:22 CEV
Those are depressing words. Those words weary our souls. Who wants to read that? But there is still hope. We’re only in chapter one, so you’ll have to wait. It’s kind of the same for us – we never truly understand or grasp the amazing grace of God until we understand how far away our sin has taken us.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Unlike having to wait to hear some good news in the book of Lamentations, wait no longer in your own personal life. The Bible tell us, “… if we confess our sins to God, He can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” (1 John 1:9 CEV). If you’ve got a cloudy, dreary, depressing day, maybe, the place you should start is by letting God lift that all from you and let His Son shine in your life.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
Can you remember a place that you went to and having arrived and having taken it all in you thought to yourself, “I’ve got to come here again.” Maybe it was an amusement park and you had so much fun, laughed so hard, you had to go back. Maybe it was an athletic event, and the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, convinced you to keep coming back. Maybe it was a place out in the wilderness that had a stunning view, away from all the motion and commotion of your everyday life and it seemed to draw you into its splendor. Or maybe it’s just your favorite chair, with your Bible sitting in the sunlight, mediating on the Word of God.
I have a number of places that I like to retreat to. I love a good walk in the woods. I love being in my boat out on the lake or canoeing down the river with my bride. I love being in my workshop making sawdust and creating things. And yes, I do love getting up early every morning, entering into my little cove and listening to what God is saying to me in His Word.
But, I find I lose my way sometimes. Maybe you do to. Those moments of peacefulness, joy, satisfaction are easily converted into times of stress, hopelessness, lostness. I forget all about the majesty of God, the power of His Holy Spirit who lives in me, the peace that passes all understanding. I get overwhelmed by the little details and that calmness I once possessed went away in the blink of an eye, a snap of my fingers. How could that happen so quickly? One moment I’m reveling in contentment and the next moment I reeling in desperation. My world is overturned and collapsing. But can I tell you – God’s world is not. He is not moved by what moves us. He is not frustrated by what frustrates us. He’s not worried… He’s not doubtful… He’s not afraid.
I was reminded of all of that as I read these words in scripture this morning…
“My people, you are lost sheep abandoned by their shepherds in the mountains. You don’t even remember your resting place.” Jeremiah 50:6 CEV
I hope it’s not just me, but why is it, it’s easy to be thrown off kilter and forget where we find balance, and strength, and hope, and joy? Why is it that we can’t even remember our “resting place”? You know, that place in the “palm of His hand,” wrapped in our Good Shepherds loving arms. Held tight against His strong chest. Embraced and caressed with such tremendous love.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Remember your resting place – Jesus Christ, and when life throws you a curveball, waste no time. Head right for Him. He’s waiting for you!
Hold me tight today. Reassure me. Remind me of how much I am loved by You. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
So how much can you believe God for? I mean really! I know you believe in God but when is it you decide that you better take things into your own hands because evidently, God’s not doing enough? You following me? Let me see if I can break this down.
Last May while on a mission trip with our youngest daughter, Keturah, in Papua New Guinea, I know I heard from the Holy Spirit about what He wanted me to do with my life. He wanted me to train, equip and encourage national pastors. That was an answer to a long prayer – about 11 months of praying. But that meant that some things were going to change. I would need to leave the church I was serving and step out in faith and raise my own support. My bride and I went into this knowing and believing what we pray in the Lord’s Prayer is true… “Give us this day our daily bread.” Daily… not weekly… not monthly… not yearly, but daily bread. We have no idea what a yearly salary looks like. It’s a step of faith. We trust God, We believe Him.
But can I be honest with you? Sometimes it’s hard, because so much of what we do as a people is based upon money. We have to buy food… we need to buy gas… we need to pay our bills… we need to pay our mortage. Believe me when I tell you, many thoughts run through your mind when the money isn’t coming in. Just last week while at Menards I noticed a little display by their front entrance saying they were hiring. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of working, but as my bride reminded me, how can I do HIs work, if I’m working for someone else. Bottom line: Do I trust God?
I share that with you because of what I read in my Bible this morning and really convicted me. Here it is…
“Don’t fall in love with money. Be satisfied with what you have. The Lord has promised that He will not leave us or desert us.” Hebrews 13:5 CEV
I want to justify my lack of trust by saying, “I don’t love money, but it is a necessity.” To which I’m pretty sure God’s response is, “And you don’t think I know that?” Either I trust God and fully rely on Him, or I take matters into my own hands and do it my way. Any of you want to guess which one I’m going to do? He promised to never leave me or desert me, and I believe His promise.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably read this verse from Hebrews 13 and told yourself, you didn’t love money. Until that is of course, when there wasn’t too much then you reacted. Trust God. He promised to never leave you or desert you.
I trust You for my daily bread, today! In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
As I was reading the Word this morning, I got this mental picture running through my mind, of someone, maybe you or someone you know, who is going through a difficult time. I’m not sure the situation, but you’re baffled. You’ve been doing all the right stuff, but still you feel constrained. You’re praying, and God’s still speaking, but nothing is changing in your life. You’re worshipping and glorifying God, “giving thanks in all circumstances” as the Bible tells us, but still you feel weighed down, sometimes frustrated and alone. You’re doing what God has asked of you – go speak to that person… go deliver this… walk this way…, but still you’re wondering what’s going to happen next in your life. You feel shackled, chained, imprisoned.
You’d like to breathe, but the air around you is so thin, it’s hard to catch your breath. You’d like to be free, but it seems as if every time to get an opening, someone closes it right away. You want to help others, but any help you provide is not appreciated. You have Holy Spirit given solutions for others, but none for your own questions. The prison walls are creeping in on you and you’re stuck in the mud.
Whoever you are and whatever it is you’re facing, I believe I’ve got a word of hope for you today. As I was reading the book of Jeremiah, I felt this tension inside of me, this holy aggravation. The man, Jeremiah, was given instructions by God to warn the people of Judah they were going to be taken captive by the King of Babylonia, King Nebuchadnezzar. Year after year after year, Jeremiah faithfully did everything God asked of him and in that entire time, he was ignored, ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned, dropped down in a well and left to die, until it finally happened. Jerusalem was overrun, everybody was accosted, even the king of Judah who had to watch his son be killed before they poked his eyes out. The Bible tells us…
“Only the poorest people who owned no land were left behind in Judah…” Jeremiah 39:10 CEV
Even Jeremiah was lead away in chains. But on their way to Babylonia, where they would live a life of slavery, one of the Babylonian officials set Jeremiah free. This unbeliever told Jeremiah that God had different plans for him. And then he said this…
“Today I am taking the chains off your wrists and setting your free!” Jeremiah 40:4 CEV
That word has a twofold meaning. It was a word to Jeremiah and it is a word for you today. God has taking the chains off your wrist. You are not a slave any longer. You have been released. You now have permission go and do, for you are free!
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: I don’t know who this message is for, but I know someone needed to hear those words. If it was you, praise God and receive what He’s telling you. If it’s for someone you know, please pass this on, so they too might be free!
Your Word will not return to You void and empty, but will accomplish what You sent it for. Let it be so with Your Word today. Set Your people free. In Jesus name I ask this… Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen