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

Affirm August 15th 2016

Affirm 2016

I’m one of those people that some might call ignorant when it comes to world news. I haven’t watched the news or listened to the news in many, many years. It just got too depressing. Every day the bad news just kept mounting up – shootings, drugs, racial hatred, injustice. It wasn’t just a single occurrence, but multiple occurrences with different people in different places.

I remember getting agitated because everyone wanted to tell me they bad news but nobody wanted to offer a solution. I know it sounds too simple, but Jesus is the answer for the world today. I then began asking myself what, if anything, I could do to bring change to this desperate situation?

In the Old Testament of the Bible, there was a king by the name of Josiah. And even though Josiah was a godly king, he couldn’t change the history of Judah and he couldn’t change the punishment that would be inflicted on Judah for their disobedience. But because of his faithfulness, he would see peace and prosperity in his lifetime.

This is what God told him through a prophet when he decided to just do the right thing…
“Because you took seriously the doom of judgment I spoke against this place and people, and because you responded in humble repentance, tearing your robe in dismay and weeping before me, I’m taking you seriously…” 2 Chronicles 33:27 MSG

As I read that this morning, I started thinking that maybe I/we need to take the posture of Josiah. What if we atoned for our own sins and stopped concentrating on our history or our future? What God has ordained for our country and the world is already put in place. There’s nothing we can do to do stop His divine plan, but we can bring peace and prosperity to our own lives by restoring the covenant God made with us, by worshipping God alone rather than the gods of this world. Once we tear down the idols in our lives, we can live lives as God intended them to be. We can be complete in Him in a world that is increasingly falling apart.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Start with yourself. Look within. Pray like King David prayed, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for Yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life.” Psalm 139:23-24 MSG

Father,
Start with me. Cross-examine me. See for Yourself who I am, what I’ve done, and grant me mercy. Forgive me and by Your Holy Spirit lead me to You. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

Affirm 2016 August 8th 2016

Let me share a scripture with you today…
“I’ll get all the prophets to lie.” 2 Chronicles 18:21 MSG

The nations of Israel and Judah had been at odds for many years. They were one nation – one people – at one time. But circumstances divided them.

Years later and now different kings, there was a time that the King of Judah, Jehoshaphat was doing business with the very wicked king of Israel, Ahab.

Ahab invited Jehoshaphat over and treated him to a meal “fit for a king” that was intended to soften him up a bit. You see, Ahab had ulterior motives. When Ahab thought the time was right he suggested an alliance between Israel and Judah so they could fight together against another nation, because Ahab knew he couldn’t win alone.

Jehoshaphat was hesitant and suggested that they consult the Lord. The result was a pre-arranged prophetic display from some of Ahab’s hand-picked prophets, 400 to be exact. Jehoshaphat saw right through it and asked for a second opinion, this time from a real prophet of God.

It’s now that we meet Micaiah. I picture him as a little fireball of a fellow with a bald head. In fact, his feistiness has already gotten him on the bad side of King Ahab. King Ahab doesn’t appreciate Micaiah’s truth telling.

Micaiah says this campaign will end in massive defeat, especially for Israel. When pressed on the matter he gives an imaginary scenario in which the Lord calls a heavenly angelic advisors meeting. The Lord wants their ideas of how to get Ahab to make the foolish decision to follow through and attack. Finally, one angel says it won’t be hard to do; he’ll just get all of Ahab’s paid prophets to lie to him!

As you can imagine all these so called prophets don’t take kindly to being called liars and pandemonium breaks out. Ahab has Micaiah thrown into jail and proceeds with his battle plans. It’s his last battle.

What’s my point in all this: It’s really not hard to find people who agree with us. Some folks really like us and think we can do just about anything; they tell us to go for it. Others want to score points with us… others are intimidated by us… or really don’t care one way or another.

What’s most important is to find people who know what they’re talking about and who will risk telling us the truth, even if it’s not what we want to hear. Are you surrounded by people like that? Because those people are priceless.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Thank the Lord for good friends who tell you the truth in love and then go thank them for being your friend. Be a friend… Make a friend… Bring a friend to Christ!

Father,
Thank You for putting people in my life who are willing to tell me the truth. Help me to be that kind of friend as well. In Jesus name, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

Night Shift

The Night Shift is a TV show on NBC about the Emergency Room night shift of a hospital in San Antonio. It first aired on May 27, 2014 and currently runs in a third season. I like the show,  but I also know a little about the reality of the ER, and not every staff problem or medical issue can be solved in 50 minutes!

I greatly respect the night shift associates who work in the St. Vincent hospital system. They are the “unsung” heroes of patient care, who often don’t get recognized or included in day time events. At one hospital as I enter for work they are coming out the door and usually look tired and ready for sleep!

I have worked as the overnight Chaplain a number of times and it is taxing physically. Being up all night (at this age!) takes a toll on the body and throws off the body rhythms of sleep and awake time. Usually there is activity somewhere in the hospital, a patient can’t sleep due to worry and anxiety and they’d like a prayer. Sometimes death is near for a patient and the chaplain brings comfort to the family. And, yes, the ER is alive and active and there is always ministry available there. The nursing staff does not seem quite so “harried” at night, and always seem to enjoy talking, sharing about their lives or seeking prayer.

I remember my first week on night shift at our 86th street hospital in Indianapolis. At night the hallway lights dim and things get much quieter. Most patients sleep if they have their day and night times aligned! But the work of patient care goes on. I remember an overhead code being called that there was an emergency in the one of the patient rooms. It was amazing to see how quickly so many people came running from all corners of the hospital! There were doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacy carts, and someone from every discipline on the scene or nearby. It was incredible sight to see as help was rushed to the patient.

You and I probably have done a “night shift” or two along the way. There have been times when we can’t sleep, we are awake, we have “busy brain” and anxiety and worry become bedside companions. It’s at those times we give thanks that God is always awake and does not take sleep, does not rest! God sends a care team of angels to hold us, love us, heal us, and guide us.

Psalm 121 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains, my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth. Behold, God who does not sleep is your keeper, and the Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”

I once saw a quirky sign that said something like “If you can’t sleep at night, it’s probably God telling you to listen because God finally has your attention!” In other words, during the day we are often to rushed to listen, too busy to pray, and to harried in our own lives. As you sleep tonight let God be your keeper, and your guard and then anxiety, worry, etc. can’t get in!

A new National Spiritual Director has been elected and you are, or will be, receiving his devotional. If you would like to continue receiving something from Pr. Doug, please send your email address asap to him! (if you already have, you do not need to repeat). Thank you and congratulations to Pr. Mark Marxhausen, from Minnesota!  

Peace,

Pr. Doug

Chaplain