September 13th, 2017 — DEVOTE

Have you ever heard anybody say something like, “Oh, I’m sure.” It was probably to a question you asked them and they were very confident in giving the answer. When you re-questioned them, they gave you the final vote of confidence with those familiar words, “Oh, I’m sure!”

Makes me wonder about what we’re certain of that we would add that exclamation. How positive are you about this life?

Well, here’s a few things I’m convinced of.

  1. I’m convinced that the sun will rise and the sun will set each day at it’s prescribed time, and God didn’t even ask my permission, nor does He have too.

  2. I’m convinced that even on the cloudiest, darkest day, the sun is still shining, even if I can’t see it.

  3. I’m convinced that in the stillness of the night, while I’m sound asleep, the world outside has not stopped moving.

  4. I’m convinced that the stars I see in the heavens, will be in the exact same place they were the night before, and they will still be twinkling in glorious splendor.

  5. I’m convinced that love covers a multitude of sins, love drives out fear, and love conquers all.

  6. I’m convinced that faith can move mountains, faith saves, and faith gives me a hope and future.

  7. I’m convinced that the oxygen I needtobreathe, will be readily available to me at God’s provision.

  8. I’m convinced that as I get older, I get slower, I hurt more, and things just don’t work like they used to.

  9. I’m convinced that one day, though I don’t know which day that is, I will die because of the effects of sin.

  10. I’m convinced that when that day comes, I will be ushered into the loving presence of my Savior, Jesus, not because of anything I did, but because of what He did.

There’s probably a whole lot more I could ramble on about what I’m convinced of, but I thought of those things after I read what the Apostle Paul was certain of. Here’s what he said…
“I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love – not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Romans 8:38-39 CEV

Can you begin to fathom that? Nothing can separate you from God’s love for you through Jesus Christ. There’s isn’t a force, a power, an influence that could ever cause God to stop loving you, and Paul was absolutely, unconditionally, unquestionably, decisively, 100%, sure. Are you?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: God not only loves you… He likes you… and He’s proud of you. And that, my friend, will never change. Of that, I’m certain.

Thank You for loving me and never changing Your mind about that. Jesus, in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 12th, 2017 — DEVOTE

I’m wondering if any of you have anybody in your life that just really flips your switch? I mean they know all the right buttons to push you over the edge, and they don’t even know they’re doing it. It’s not anything intentional or purposeful, but from past experience, just the sound of their voice can drive you mad. When you see them enter the room, you already have that tingly feeling and you know things aren’t going to go right. They just irritate you. They way they handle themselves… the sound of their voice… how they act or react… their mannerisms… they just rub you the wrong way. Maybe this message is really only for me today? 🙂

I bring that all up because of what I read in Romans 7 today. The guy writing this book of the Bible, Paul, is talking about our battle with sin. He tells us the Law of God, which is holy and correct and good, only shows us our sin, and our sin will kill us.

But instead of point fingers at everyone else and telling them how pathetic they are, he looks within. He’s the person in the mirror that needs to be dealt with. Read some of the things he says about himself and his struggle with sin…
“I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate.” Romans 7:15 CEV

“Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong.” Romans 7:18b-19a CEV

It’s then he concludes…
“What a miserable person I am.” Romans 7:24 CEV

As I read that I’m confronted with myself in the mirror. I do the things I know are wrong, but do them anyway. And the things I know are right to do, well, I don’t do them. I want to say, “Paul, move over. I’m just as wretched and hopeless.” Maybe it’s not the other person who’s so irritating… maybe it’s me. Maybe I should deal with my sin first, before I look with disconnect on others.

What am I going to do? And that’s exactly the question Paul asked. He asked…
“Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die?” Romans 7:24 CEV

His answer…
“Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me.” Romans 7:25 CEV

Don’t know if you knew you needed rescuing, but if you’re anything like me, you realize you need rescuing every day – all day.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Take a look in the mirror. Look deeply and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you to see the things you do and don’t do which are killing you. Then ask Jesus to come rescue you. He has and He will again.

My sin is killing me. Forgive me, Jesus. In Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 11th, 2017 –DEVOTE

So, I’ve been waiting for this. While reading through the book of Job, I’ve been waiting for God’s response. I’ve listened to Job’s arguments about wanting to question God and how he wants God to prove that he’s guilty. I’ve listened to Job’s friends rebuke him, and in my estimation use some of the worst, man-thought-up, theology ever conceived. I’ve even listened to a guy rant and rave, that though he’s the youngest of them all, and the least experienced, still he had all the answers and should be listened to.

Now God is going to speak. This is the moment you might want to buckle your seatbelt and hold on tight. This is what the Word says…
“From out of a storm, the LORD said to Job…” Job 38:1 CEV

If you stopped reading the book of Job right there, those words should convey enough for you… “the LORD said…” After all the silence and letting man dribble on and on, now God speaks. But what God says to Job, I’m sure, is not what Job was ready or wanting to hear. Job wanted to question God, but what happens is: God starts questioning Job.

“Why do you talk so much when you know so little?” Job 38:2 CEV

“How did I lay the foundation for the earth? Were you there?” Job 38:4 CEV

“Did you ever tell the sun to rise?” Job 38:12 CEV

God reminds Job that he is merely human and because of that is very limited. However, God is limitless!

Job wanted to have all of his “why?’ questions answered. He wanted to know God’s plan in allowing all the bad stuff that’s happened to him. However, God isn’t interested in answering Job’s “why?” questions. God doesn’t give Job the “why?” he wants, but He does give him the “WHO!” he needs.

God reminds Job that he is limited to time and space, but God is not. God has been from the beginning of time and will be till the end of time, which means He sees everything in between. He has been there for everything Job endured. What God knows, that Job does not, is how all of his suffering fits into the big picture of history. He knows how Job’s suffering is working for Job and the eternal weight of glory beyond his comprehension.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: God is still speaking to us. He hasn’t forgotten or abandoned us. You have not slipped through the cracks and gone unnoticed. I don’t know what you’re facing today, but, God knows… God sees… God hears… and He can still be trusted. Things may make absolutely no sense in your life, at least from your limited viewpoint. But remember, God has the advantage in seeing His plan unfold in your life. He may not tell you “why?” but He’ll always tell you “Who!”

Remind me today to trust You for everything. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 8th, 2017 — DEVOTE

As you read through the book of Job, you read this ongoing conversation between Job and his three friends. And it’s the same from chapters 3-31. These three friends try as desperately as they can to explain to Job that his loss of life and possessions is all because he has sinned and he should repent. Job’s rebuttal, that he’s innocent and he wishes God would explain to him why He’s doing this. If I could be honest with you – it’s kind of annoying, especially since I’ve read the book before and know how it ends. I just want to skip the trivial and get to the good stuff.

Then we read this…
“Finally, these three men stopped arguing with Job, because he refused to admit that he was guilty.” Job 32:1 CEV

I want to shout, “Hallelulah!” “Praise the Lord!” “God is good!” Seemingly, we’re all done with listening to everybody’s opinion on what they think God is like and what they think God is doing and why He’s doing it.

But wait… in walks a fourth person – who also has an opinion. We’re told he’s been there from the beginning, but because he was younger than all of them, he remained silent, out of respect for his elders. The problem: he’s going to do what everybody else was doing – give his opinion on God and why he thinks Job is going through all of this. And he’s going to do it for 6 more chapters.

But here’s where it gets interesting. You need to notice a few things. This fourth guy comes out of nowhere. He’s not been mentioned until now, and after he’s done ranting, he won’t be mentioned again. Another thing… whereas Job and his three friends had a dialog – talking to each other – when this guy is finished orating, no one even acknowledges a word he said. Even when God steps into the picture at the end of book, He addresses Job and his three friends, but this fourth guy is forgotten.

Here’s just the truth about all of this debating. This fourth guy’s voice isn’t the voice that Job or his friends needed to hear. The voice all of them needed to hear was God’s voice.

Let me share some truth with you: Many times we enter into a discussion and give our “humble opinion”, but our voice is not the voice our family and friends need to hear… they need to hear God’s voice.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: God can and still does speak through His people, but all too often we want to jump into situations and give our own two cents. People don’t need our opinion… they need a word from God. Our wisdom will always fall short… it will always be lacking. The only One left to speak is the only One Job… his three friends… the fourth guy… and us need to hear. The voice of God! Listen!

Help me speak Your words, not my own. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 7th, 2017 — DEVOTE

There are probably many of you, like me, who look back on the years, now that we see our children all grown up, and watch them deal with their children, and critique their approach to life and discipline. Some things we agree with, others we question as to where they got such silly ideas.

One of those silly ideas that I never fell into was the thought of many a parent who wants to be their child’s “best friend.” It sounds great, but how that generally is displayed is by the parent acquiescing their parental responsibilities and letting the child do whatever they want, because that’s what a “best friend” would do.

We watch them in total disarray as the child does whatever he/she wants, and the parent, for fear of losing their “best friend” relationship, allows them to. What that parent doesn’t know or understand is, their kindness toward that child isn’t helping them one bit. On the outside it might look like kindness, but in actuality, it’s really hurting the child. Rewarding bad behavior is never a good idea.

Can I tell you… there are a lot of people who want God to act like this parent. That want someone who will let them do whatever they want… when they want… how they want. They don’t want to be told “no.” They want God to be their “best friend,” which means that nothing ever goes wrong and they get everything they want all the time. Doesn’t sound very real, does it? We all know life doesn’t work like that. And frankly, neither does God.

Why do I tell you all of that? Here’s what I read in the Word this morning….
“You surely don’t think much of God’s wonderful goodness or of His patience and willingness to put up with you. Don’t you know that the reason God is good to you is because He wants you to turn to Him?” Romans 2:4 CEV

Another translation says it this way…
“… the kindness of God leads you to repentance…”

God is willing, as a Father, to love us, even when we’re unlovable. But don’t misunderstand His kindness. His kindness is not to let you or me just keep going the wrong way, doing the wrong thing. No, His kindness steps in and sets us on the right path, going in His direction, doing what He wants done. That’s kindness. His kindness is meant to draw us back into a right relationship with Him – not as our “best friend” but as our God.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Meditate on God’s kindness and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to repent in those areas where you have gone wrong. As you turn back to God, know that He’ll be right there as a very loving Father.

Thank You for loving me so much to draw me back to You. Help me turn back into Your loving arms. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 6th, 2017 — DEVOTE

I’ve often thought of this guy, Paul, in the Bible. I mean talk about the real deal.

Here’s a guy who had everything going for him. He had the absolute best education money could buy. He was an up and rising star. His future was unstoppable. That is, of course, until Jesus stepped into his life. From that moment on, Paul’s life was completely changed, out of control, and governed by the Master.

I’ve often thought of those who have had the opportunity to grow up in a Christian home and then later decide, because they’re adults now and can think for themselves, they don’t need God. Or somehow the things in the Bible are not correct or applicable to their lives. They’ve come to believe that the Bible is just the thoughts of men, and their parents and grandparents religion is fruitless – a waste of time. They’re free thinkers and have life under control, so they don’t need God, nor do they need a Savior. And then there are those who believe the Bible is just another scheme of some kind to manipulate people.

But if that’s true, why would a guy, like Paul, give up everything that was rosy and shiny, for the life he was living? You know, the imprisonment? the beatings? the ridicule? Why live life on the hard road for something that was made up, when he could have had easy street for the rest of his life? Why would he go through all the pain and suffering for a phony religion? Why? Unless it was all true.

Paul wrote this to a group of believers in the city of Rome…
“Jesus was kind to me and chose me to be an apostle, so that people of all nations would obey and have faith. You are some of those people chosen by Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:5-6 CEV

Then he says…
“God has seen how I never stop praying for you, while I serve Him with all my heart and tell the Good News about His Son.” Romans 1:9 CEV

He continues…
“… we can encourage each other by the faith that is ours.” Romans 1:12 CEV

“I want to win followers to Christ…” Romans 1:13 CEV

“I must tell the Good News to everyone.” Romans 1:15 CEV

Paul just didn’t believe the Good News, he lived the Good News. He just didn’t have a casual religion, he had a lifestyle faith. Jesus had totally invested His life into Paul’s life – therefore Paul was going to invest his life into everyone else’s life. That’s what he meant by “… we can encourage each other by the faith that is ours.”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: If you’re a believer, ask yourself, “what am I doing with my faith?” Maybe it’s time to invest it in someone. Someone in your life might need a little encouragement. Put your faith to work.

Help me be an encourager for You as You have encouraged me. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 5th, 2017 –DEVOTE

Some things are just intriguing to me. They capture my heart and mind, and I want to see it and experience it again.

Such was the case when my bride and I went for a canoe ride down the river and across the street from us. It’s a beautiful sight. The ever flowing river gentle guides you to scenery of splendor and serenity. It’s calmness, stills your ever pounding heart. It never seems to grow old.

I also had that experience yesterday as my bride wanted me to cut down a Cedar tree that was pretty close to the house and blocking our view. There’s really nothing majestic or beautiful about a Cedar tree, until you cut into it’s thickness and smell the aroma. It keeps drawing me back to smell it again and again. I know that may sound weird to you, but I’m enamored by its fragrance.

Maybe those don’t excite you at all, but I’m sure there’s probably something that grabs your attention and keeps you wanting  more. Maybe a good book. Or a musical. Maybe it’s your favorite hobby. A sporting activity. Whatever it is, it has the power to commandeer your time, energy and attention.

That’s the feeling I had as I read Psalm 111 this morning. The Psalm writer said…
“The LORD has done many wonderful things! Everyone who is pleased with God’s marvelous deeds will keep them in mind.” Psalm 111:2 CEV

The writer is amazed at the great things God has done. They aren’t just good things either… they’re wonderful… marvelous deeds. It’s those things that cause us to have a sense of awe and wonder, and we can’t forget them.

But, let’s be honest now. Sometimes we lose our sense of awe and wonder when we think about God. The majesty of His works and power lose their freshness. They become just normal, everyday things that no longer collar us. Which then means that much of our delight in the Lord begins to fade and dissolve. And as you probably know… that’s not the place you want to be. Don’t let the wonderful things of God become drab in your life. Don’t ever lose your sense of awe and wonder as you meditate on God.

The Psalmist tells us so much more in the following verses. He tell us God is…

“… glorious and majestic…” verse 3

“… kind and merciful…” verse 4

“… always keeps His agreement…” verse 5

‘… always honest and fair…” verse 7

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Take a moment of your time, look around and see all that God has done. Smell the world and taste and see that God is good and then renew your sense of delight in Him. Purpose within your own heart and mind that you will always be inspired by the wonders of God.

Thank you for all that I am going to see and experience today. Help me find You in it all. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 4th, 2017 — DEVOTE

Where do I begin and where do I end? Those questions run through my mind as I think about the topic of forgiveness. Have I really forgiven that person or have I just talked myself into believing that I’ve forgiven that person?

We generally throw in all kinds of conditions with our forgiveness. We tell ourselves, we’ve really forgiven, but we don’t ever want to see that person again.

We convince ourselves we’ve forgiven, but then add a statement like, “but the hurt I’ve endured is un-forgiveable.”

We say something like, “I can’t forgive what I can’t forget.” Or we say, “I’ll totally forgive if I see the change that’s needed.”

But do we thoroughly understand the ramifications to our lack of forgiveness? Do we grasp the concept of what we would be like if Jesus treated us the same way as we treat those who sin against us?

What if Jesus, sitting on the right hand of the Father, was asked by His Father if you should be forgiven and Jesus replied, “Well, to be honest with You Father, this has happened over and over and over again. I think we should hold off with total forgiveness. I’ve just been rejected too many times.”

Or, “You know, Father, I’d be willing to forgive them, but I won’t ever forget what they did to Me.”

All of a sudden, I don’t like what I hear. I want to be forgiven freely, but I don’t want to forgive as freely. I want to be able to hold a grudge. I want to be able to make someone squirm and feel guilty for what they did to me. I want to keep that person imprisoned in their guilt.

Well, the truth is, we keep ourselves locked away in that prison when we don’t forgive as Jesus did. We’re the ones who suffer the most.

Here’s what the Apostle Paul told us to do…
“God loves you and has chosen you as His own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.” Colossians 3:12-14 CEV

C.S. Lewis said it this way…
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Forgiveness is not an option for believers of Christ. It was never an option for Jesus as to whether or not He would die on the cross for your sins. He did it joyfully and yet painfully.  

I’m not saying that your hurt and suffering aren’t real, but it isn’t even close compared to Jesus. Find a way to forgive as you’ve been forgiven! You’ll be glad you did!

Help me to forgive as I have been forgiven. As You love me, help me to love those around me. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 1st, 2017 – DEVOTE

How many times can one person rebound? I mean, once you’ve been knocked down… kicked… slapped… beaten… how many times can you get back up? How many times can you get your praise face back on and lift up the name of Jesus, even if it’s dark and gloomy in your life?

That’s where I’m going this morning after having read a few more chapters in the book of Job. He’s been suffering physically with this skin disease that’s been eating away at his body. I’m guessing he’s not eating very well either, because he says numerous times, he’s skin and bones. He tells us young children stare at him and make fun of him… his breath disgust his wife… his servants pay no attention to him… and his friends have forgotten him. Talk about rough.

But he’s also suffering emotionally, and he’s friends aren’t helping. As a matter of fact, he tells them their words are torture. Everything has turned in on him. He’s heavy hearted and mind weary in trying to figure out what’s happened.

He’s also suffering spiritually. He says…
“Though I pray to be rescued from this torment, no whisper of justice answers me.” Job 19:7 CEV

He feels like God’s a million miles away and the brass doors of heaven are locked tight. He hears nothing from God.

Ever been in that place? Have you ever said something like, “What else can go wrong?” feeling like you’re on a never ending roller coaster ride of disaster with no way off. It seems like trouble comes in multiple doses, not one at a time.

But what do you do with that? How do you handle that? When you feel the pressure of the world on you and you’re about to call it quits, what is your next move? Is there any hope? I believe there is, and Job, this guy whose life is so totally damaged, tells us so. He says to his friends and to us…
“I know that my Savior lives, and at the end He will stand on this earth. My flesh may be destroyed, yet from this body I will see God. Yes, I will see Him for myself, and I long for that moment.” Job 19:25-27 CEV

This Job fella, though his life is messed up, still praises God. He still believes in God. He still trust God. He knows that he’s not going to live forever, but his hope is in his Savior – the one he has yet to meet.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: You’ve met the Savior. His name is Jesus. He died your death. He paid your price. He opened heaven’s doors for you. In the depth of struggles, get your praise face on and look to One who comes to your rescue. “I know that my Savior lives, and at the end He will stand on this earth. My flesh may be destroyed, yet from this body I will see God. Yes, I will see Him for myself, and I long for that moment.”

I believe. Jesus, in Your name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

August 31st, 2017 – DEVOTE

Having been a pastor for over 30 years has given me many experiences, some good, some not so good. There have been times of great celebration: hearts united in marriage… the birth of a child… the dedication of a new building. There have also been times of great sorrow: the death of a child… the loss of a job… the burning of a home.

It’s at those times, most often, people want answers. Maybe you yourself remember the time when your friend was going through some rough times and they came to you for help, but you weren’t sure what to say that would help?

It’s then we pull out a verse like Romans 8:28, “We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves Him.” (CEV) We believe that verse will help them feel better, that God is going to take their horrific situation and turn it around for His good because they love Him.

We do that because we can’t begin to fathom not having any words to say to our friend when they’re hurting and afraid. Or we try to explain why their situation is happening or give them words to try to comfort them. Job’s friends did the very same thing.

Most of the book of Job is his friends telling him why all of his children have died… why all of his livestock is gone… and why he has sores all over his body. If I were to break it down in the simplest form they told Job he’s only getting what he deserved because he sinned. Some of the things his friends say to Job, probable make sense to us and are probably things we ourselves have thought and maybe even said. However, none of the reasons they gave Job were what caused his loss. They thought they were comforting Job when in actuality they were only causing more discomfort. That’s why Job said…
“I have often heard this, and it offers no comfort. So why don’t you keep quiet? What’s bothering you? If I were in your place, it would be easy to criticize or to give advice. But I would offer hope and comfort instead.” Job 16:2-5 CEV

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: There are times God will use us to give comfort with a scripture verse when our friend is hurting, but there will be other times when we really have no idea what to say or how to help. Instead of just spouting out the first thing that comes to our mind, no matter how religious it sound, try this first: listen… listen… and then listen some more, instead of trying to solve all their problems.

Help me be the kind of friend my friend really needs. They don’t always need an answer to life’s frustrations, but just a listening ear. Help me, help them. I ask this in the precious name of Jesus, my Savior, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausenell