October 24th, 2016 – Affirm

I have a couple of all-time favorite movies I like to watch. Many of them star Robin Williams. “Patch Adams” comes to mind, (I love that movie) as well as “Dead Poet’s Society” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.” On the top of that list is “Awakenings” with Robert DeNiro. The movie is based on a real life experience.

Robin Williams plays the part of a medical doctor, Dr. Oliver Sacks and Robert DeNiro plays the part of Leonard Lowe, a man suffering from what was called “sleeping sickness” which left people in a catatonic state. A experimental drug was tested on these patients and Leonard was the first patient to be “awakened.”

After thirty years of existing in a sleep-like state, Leonard suddenly regains his ability to walk and talk. In one scene in the movie, he’s so excited by his new life that he calls the doctor in the middle of the night and says he has to talk to him. The doctor hurries over and Leonard says: “We’ve got to tell everybody, we’ve got to remind them, we’ve got to remind them how good it is.”

“How good what is, Leonard?” the doctor asks.

Leonard picks up a newspaper: “Read the newspaper. See what they say, all bad, it’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is about, they’ve forgotten what it is to be alive, they need to be reminded, they need to be reminded about what they have and what they can lose. And what I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!”

Having just been awakened from his “sleeping sickness”, Leonard discovers anew the joy and the wonder of life. He also discovers that most people, even though they’re walking and talking and seemingly living their lives, are in fact just as asleep as he was.

I thought of that as I read Isaiah 35 today. God says…
“Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, ‘Courage! Take heart! GOD is here, right here, on His way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on His way! He’ll save you!’ Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.” Isaiah 35:3-5 MSG

Could it be possible that you’ve been “sleep walking” lately? Just going through the motions, unaware of the greatest truth there is: God is here, right here and has made all things new through His Son, Jesus Christ and that new life is freely yours.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t forgot what it’s like to be made alive in Christ. That new life is yours, don’t sleep through it!

Father,
Awaken me by the power of Your Spirit. I want to experience new life today. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

October 17th, 2016 Affirm

I remember reading, though I don’t remember where, someone saying that we all have three basic needs. Every human being is created with these needs and finds fulfillment when these needs are met.

It was stated that we all have a need to be wanted. We have a part of us that wants to belong. Oh, we might like our alone time, our quiet time, but we do want to be wanted by others. We understand that we were made for community, for family, and we desire to be a part of it. We were not made to be the Lone Ranger, an island in the ocean, a pie-in-the-sky.

Secondly, we all want to be needed. I guess that’s just another level higher than wanted. We all come with our gifts and talents and when we realize who we are and how God has gifted us, we want to use those gifts for others and for our God. And in a good way, we want to be recognized as someone who contributes to the greater good. We’re not just consumers who take and take, but investors who give and give.

The last basic need is, we all want to be loved. Inside of us is a cavity that has a need to be filled, but not filled with just anything, but filled with love, genuine love. Love that is authentic.

But here’s the problem… we live in a fallen world, with fallen people. We ourselves aren’t always open to wanting, needing or loving people and we in turn have experienced the same. We’ve been hurt numerous times by being left out, unnecessary, and undesirable. We’ve been overlooked and turned away. Then what? If these basic needs are true how will we or anyone ever have them met?

Well, you know me, I have a Word for that. I found it in the book of Lamentations of all spots. Read this…
“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return… His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.” Lamentations 3:28-31, 32b MSG

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: The truth is… we do have basic needs that need to be met. The truth is… we aren’t always going to have them met. The truth is” we aren’t always going to meet everyone else’s needs either. The truth is… God will never walk out on you and He has stockpiles of loyal love waiting for you. God loves you and so do I.

Father,
Thank You for filling my cup today. Thank You for reminding me that You will always satisfy my soul. Give me eyes to love the people around me today like You do. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

Affirm October 10th, 2016

So my bible reading today was Jeremiah 37-39. Most of it is about two people… Jeremiah the prophet and the King of Judah, Zedekiah. Zedekiah is only the king of Judah because the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, allows him to be king. He’s really just a puppet king.

Zedekiah’s an interesting person. At one time he wants to hear God’s word through the prophet concerning the future of the land, but he doesn’t want anyone else to know that he’s seeking this advice from Jeremiah. He’s kind of a closet believer. He’s afraid of what the other leaders would think and what they would do to him since none of them approve of the ministry of Jeremiah or believe the prophetic word. We get a better, bigger picture of his personality when we read verses like these…
“The king questioned him privately…” Jeremiah 37:17 MSG
“Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah right there, but in secret…” Jeremiah 38:16 MSG
“I’m afraid of the Judeans…” Jeremiah 38:19 MSG
Don’t let anyone know of this conversation…” Jeremiah 38:24 MSG

Those words caught my attention and made me start thinking that there are times we’re not much different than Zedekiah. We want to go to church… we want to worship God… we want to hear a good sermon… but our faith has become a private affair. I really don’t want anyone else know where I stand with Jesus. I’m certainly only going to be talking to a select few people, because, as I’ve said, my faith is my private business.

Many of us have grown up being taught we should never discuss income, politics and religion. I don’t know who made that rule up, but it sure seems dumb to me, especially the religion part.

Why wouldn’t we want to talk about the greatest event in the history of mankind? Why wouldn’t we want people to know that they’re unconditionally loved? Why wouldn’t we introduce them to the person who secured their forgiveness and offered them eternal life? Why wouldn’t we shout it from the mountaintops, the valleys, the highways and byways, unless of course, it’s a personal matter… a private concern and we’re afraid of what others might say or do.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t be a Zedekiah. As it turns out, because he kept the words Jeremiah gave him to himself, he watched as the king of Babylon killed all his sons and then all the leaders from Judah. Then Nebuchadnezzar blinded him, chained him up and imprisoned him for the rest of his life. You were created to give God praise. Don’t hold it in and most certainly don’t keep it to yourself. Be a friend… Make a friend…. And Bring a friend to Christ.

Father,
Forgive me for the times I’ve kept this precious gift of faith to myself. Help me really love people by telling them what matters most to me – YOU! In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

October 3rd Affirm

October 3rd Affirm 2016

A number of people have asked me why I write these morning devotions every day and I always have a simple answer for them – to encourage myself from God’s Word and hopefully someone else who might need it.

Discouragement is part of life. Discouragement comes most often when you do what you think is the right thing but experience poor results. You work hard, but you don’t make any progress. You show up to practice every day, giving it your all, but you lose every game. You spend time with your child – going out of your way to parent the best you know how – but they rebel.

Discouragement eats a hole in our hearts. It makes us want to quit, saying things we shouldn’t say, shaking our fists at God. I’m pretty sure that’s how Jeremiah felt. God called him to speak a harsh message to a rebellious people. He obeyed. Yet on one occasion Jeremiah so angered the senior priest in the temple, that the man arrested Jeremiah, beat him, threw him in jail, locking him in stocks. Here was a man in deep distress. He endured physical, emotional, spiritual, and professional anguish. He walked into deep despair, all for doing God’s will.

But here are four things you and I can learn from Jeremiah and be encouraged…

1.Be honest – tell God how you feel. This is what Jeremiah said…
“You pushed me into doing this, God, and I let you do it.” Jeremiah 20:7 MSG
Jeremiah wasn’t happy with what was going on in his life, and he was honest.

2. Be obedient – keep doing what you’re called to do.
“But if I say, ‘Forget it! No more God-Messages from me!’ The words are fire in my belly, a burning in my bones. I’m worn out trying to hold it in. I can’t do it any longer.” Jeremiah 20:9 MSG
Just obey!

3. Be watchful – know that the Lord is always with you.
“But God, a most fierce warrior, is at my side.” Jeremiah 20:11 MSG

4. Be worshipful – praise God with your whole heart.
“Sing to God! All praise to God!” Jeremiah 20:13 MSG

Let me close with a legend that reveals the source of discouragement. Supposedly, the devil put his tools up for sale, marking each for public inspection with its appropriate sale price. Included were hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, lying, and pride. Laid apart from these was a rather harmless looking but very well-worn tool – discouragement – marked at an extremely high price. Why the costly price? The devil answered: “Because it is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open a person’s heart with that when I can’t get near them with the other tools. Once inside, I can make them do whatever I choose. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since few people know it belongs to me.”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: God is on your side! He not only loves you… He likes you… and He’s proud of you!

Father,
Thank You for being my encouragement! In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 26th Affirm

It happens each and every week, usually on Sunday. Either my bride ask, or I do the asking, but the question is always the same: “What does your schedule look like this week?” It’s then we compare our notes so that we can find out when our paths will cross.

Today is Monday. We’re back at it. Our schedules are probably fuller than we want them. Kids going off to school, meetings we need to attend, phones calls we need to make, crying babes, doctor visits, got to pick the car up from the garage. You name it, it’s happening. Our stuff, that fills our daily and weekly grind, doesn’t care that we just had a weekend off. It doesn’t care that we just recuperated from the previous week. As fast as it can, it fills our every waking moment, like water finding the path of least resistance, or sugar sand sifting through our fingers.

Today is Monday. The prophet Isaiah calls us to sing, shout, raise the roof, testify to the greatness of God with wild abandon, to throw off our fears and celebrate our salvation. But it is Monday and let’s face it, it can be hard to praise God on a Monday.

But Isaiah didn’t really care what day of the week it was. Here’s what he said…
“Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation. And as you do it, you’ll say, ‘Give thanks to God.’” Isaiah 12:3 MSG

This metaphor is perfect for a Monday, because it celebrates all that God has done for us by imagining praise as a routine, as an everyday survival activity, like drawing water from a well. Praise of our God should be as routine as brushing our teeth or getting dressed.

So here’s my word of encouragement for you today: It’s Monday. I know it’s Monday, So let’s move through our Monday, and our Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday and we might as well include Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with finding ways to sing and shout, to praise and tell the world of God’s saving power through His Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s try that and then you tell me if your week didn’t work out better than you had planned.

Father,
We praise You for all You have done for us. As we move through our ordinary days, help us rejoice in You always. In Jesus mighty name we pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 19th Affirm

It’s happened to me a number of times in the past. I’ll be walking through a convenience store and I notice some salesperson is staring at me as I walk by. I know better than to make eye contact with them because I also know as soon as I do they’re going to want to engage me in a conversation and want me to buy something.

Well it happened again the other day. I was just walking through the aisles of a store, not looking for anything in particular but really looking for my wife, when a young good looking man stepped in front of me and asked if he could help me find whatever I might be looking for you. My first thought was, “Hey, I didn’t even make eye contact with you!” My next thought was asking him if he knew where my wife was, but instead I simply told him I didn’t need any help.

Then the sales pitch came. If I would have just ignored him that would have been rude. And since I answered his question he believed he had the right to ask me another question. His question: “Do you have satellite or cable TV because we have a great deal and can save you a lot of money.” I told him that wasn’t possible. He kept going with his sales pitch, until I interrupted him and told him there was no way he could lower my bill because I have an antenna and my TV watching in free. He politely excused himself realizing I was a lost cause.

I thought of that incident as I was reading Job 33 today. A young man named Elihu says this…
“God always answers, one way or another, even when people don’t recognize His presence.” Job 33:14 MSG

Have you ever wondered what channels God uses? The number one way that God speaks to us is through the Bible. That’s why we should be reading the Bible every day. God’s will is found in God’s Word.

God also speaks through godly Bible preachers and teachers. Have you ever been in church or at a Bible study and felt like the preacher/teacher was speaking directly to you? In that moment, God is speaking directly to you.

God also speaks through other Christians. He even speaks through you. If you’ll stay in tune to Him and learn His Word, sometimes God will use you to say things to people that He wants to say to them. It’s not something especially reserved only for pastors; God speaks through every believer at different times.

God isn’t limited in any way in how He speaks to us. So here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Know this… God is speaking all the time, but we must listen. Tune in to God, and He’ll lead you where He needs you to go and do what He needs you to do.

Father,
Speak with me today. Help me recognize Your presence in my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

Affirm September 12th 2016

Let me tell you about Ellie. Ellie was a very distinguished senior citizen who lived in a very well kept trailer home. It didn’t matter if it was Sunday or a work day, Ellie was always in peak condition, mentally and physically. Though she was a widow, she was very strong. Maybe being a widow forced her to take control of things.

Ellie loved coming to church. She was the epitome of Psalm 122:1, “When they said, ‘Let’s go to the house of God,’ my heart leaped for joy.” (MSG) That was Ellie. She loved worshipping, singing in the choir. She was part of a ministry that wrote letters to our college students to keep them informed of what was happening back at church and to remind them they were loved. She even sent them care packages filled with her delicious brownies and other delectables. As a matter of fact when we were building the church, her and another lady, Dorothy, varnished all the interior wood – and there was a lot of it. Going to church and being at church made Ellie happy.

However, I do remember one day when she wasn’t very happy with me and the situation at hand. It was a Sunday morning and I was greeting people before our worship service when I realized that Ellie was standing right next to me and was not one bit happy. Seems that some new people came to church that day and sat in Ellie’s seat – Fourth row, first chair! That’s where Ellie sat each and everySunday and everybody knew that was Ellie’s seat – except for these new people. Ellie wanted me to move them. If I didn’t, she told me in no uncertain terms that she wouldn’t be able to worship and her day would be totally ruined.

I tried to reason with Ellie that neither of those were true and that hospitality to our guest should be freely offered. She wasn’t having any of that. She wasn’t real happy with that day, but she did get over it. Every Sunday thereafter, Ellie was in church just that much earlier to make sure she reserved her seat. Her heart once again leaped for joy to be in God’s house.

How about you? Does your heart leap for joy in knowing you’re going to God’s house!

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Going to God’s house to worship, to pray, to learn, to fellowship, to work, should bring joy to your heart. Not because you get what you want, but simply because you get to be in the presence of God and surrounded by brother’s and sister’s in Christ. You should be able to say, “When they said, ‘Let’s go to the house of God,’ my heart leaped for joy.”

Father,
Today we thank You for our church – for meeting us there. For loving us unconditionally and telling us every opportunity You get. Thank You for those who walk with us in this journey of life. Fill my heart with joy! In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

Affirm – September 5th, 2016

Have you ever had your proverbial “back against the wall?” You remember, don’t you? Whatever the situation you were in, your opponent kept pushing and pushing until you had nowhere else to go. From any direction, things didn’t look so good. You were in a bad spot and you knew it.

Well, let me ask you another question: Have you ever been in a situation that seemed totally hopeless – until “the tables were turned”? You remember that too, don’t you? Everything was bleak and black and then before you knew it or could even explain it, everything was cheerful and sunny. Friends, that’s what God can do to accomplish His purposes in any situation and God can turn the tables in your situation even today.

I tell you that because I just finished reading the book of Esther this morning. I love that book of the Bible. Let me share with you a few of the many contrast in this book. Consider these contrasts, showing how God turned things completely around to protect His people and preserve His plans:

  1. Mordecai goes from sackcloth and ashes (4:1,4) to royal clothes and a crown (8:15).
  2. Mordecai goes from sitting outside the king’s gate (4:2) to a place of honor inside the palace (8:1).
  3. The Jewish people appear vulnerable and marked for annihilation (3:13); yet become a formidable group, striking fear in other nations (8:17).
  4. The Jews go from severe mourning (4:3) to great rejoicing (8:16).

Friends, God is more than able to take seemingly hopeless situations and work them out for the good of His people. Here’s what the Apostle Paul said about our lives being taken care of by God…
“… God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:28 MSG

Did you read that? “Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Though you might not be able to see it because things seem bleak and black – above the dark ominous clouds the Son is still shining. He’s working everything out.

Father,
I rest secure knowing that my life, every detail of my life, is being taken care of and everything is going to work out for good. My praise, thanks and adoration go only to You. In Jesus name I come, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

August 29th, 2016 Afirm

We consistently see the advertisements. I’ve noticed them with more frequency lately. Not only do I see them on TV commercials but now seeing graphic, heart wrenching interviews on the social media, like FaceBook.

I’m talk about that issue of texting while driving. The latest one I saw showed a young person sitting comfortably in a room, being interviewed and nonchalantly answering some innocent questions about if they text and drove and why they text while they drive.

Then, in walks into the room, a very pretty young lady. You can tell when you first see her that she has some physical issues. She walks with a limp… her left arm is stationary… her hand unusable… her face is a bit deformed, most noticeably around her mouth as she speaks.

She introduces herself and immediately begins telling her story. Never once does she talk with hate or anger, but with simple compassion. She was in the car of her parents when another driver who was texting crossed over the centerline, forcing a semi to have to move over which caused a head on collision with her parents car. Both her parents were killed immediately. She was in the hospital for 2 months. Most her her bones were broken. She had many surgeries. She spent an enormous amount of time in therapy, but she survived and now serves as a living testimony as to what can happen when we text and drive.

I share that with you today because I read in these words in my Bible…
“Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life; not for a minute will I take my eyes off Your road.” Psalm 119:17 MSG

Now we all understand that when the Psalmist wrote this, they didn’t have vehicles like we do today. They had horses and donkey’s and camels, who though some go could fast would never reach the speed of today’s transportation. Going off the road took real effort. You purposefully had to stop watching.

Friends, it’s easy in today’s fast paced world to take our eyes off of Jesus. And because of the speed of our times, it only takes a split second for us to end up in the ditch, sometimes not only hurting ourselves but also others.

God in His grace, laid out a road for each of us to follow – it leads to Him. But if you take your eyes off of Him, like texting while driving, you may end up in a terrible accident.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: While driving through your daily activities, “…keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed.” Hebrews 12:2 MSG

Father,
Through the power of Your Spirit today, help me keep my eyes on You and not be distracted by any text. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

August 22, 2016 – Affirm

Last week I had a great talk with my cousin Kim on the phone. I haven’t talked to her in… I don’t know how many years. Her husband is a pastor down in Texas. Kim and I are the same age and have a number of other cousins who were all born the same year (must have been a good year to have kids!)

Kim had sent me an email concerning our family tree and asked whether I’d be the point person for my dad’s family in getting her updated information. So far she’s traced our family line back to the early 1700’s. While talking with her, we shared stories of growing up and things we remembered. Our conversation was peppered with a lot of laughter.

I share that with you because as I was reading the in the book of Ezra today, I ran across some verses that described a group of people. Here’s what it said…
“… They weren’t able to prove their ancestry, whether they were true Israelites or not… They had thoroughly searched for their family records but couldn’t find them.” Ezra 2:60,62 MSG

How unnerving would that be? Not being able to know where you came from, or who you were? Not being able to prove your existence?

Well, I happen to think there’s a lot of people who have that same problem in a spiritual manner. They’ve forgotten who they are. They’ve lost track of their family inheritance. They no longer have any records of their spiritual ancestry.

Now they may have lost that due to many circumstances and situations, but none-the-less, they no longer know they are children of God. They belong to a huge family where there’s plenty of love and care, but they’ve become disconnected. They’ve become spiritual orphans and most often we don’t do anything to bring them back into the family.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s what God says to you, to me, to them…
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.” Isaiah 43:1 MSG

Jesus said…
“I will not leave you orphaned.” John 14:18 MSG

So here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Do you know someone who needs a family? Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your coworker, neighbor, spouse, best friend. Why not welcome them home and introduce them to their family and let them know they belong!

Father,
We are Your children. You created us… You redeemed us… You empower us. Please remind us often how blessed we are to be in Your family. Thank You for adopting us. As You’re looking for those who are orphaned, open our eyes to see them too and invite them in as Your children. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen