Weekly Devotion

 

YOUnited States of America

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” He replied.,“How do you read it?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind, all your strength and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”               – Luke‬ ‭10:25-27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

During the time of Jesus, the law of Moses was debated frequently. It was both a moral code and a civil law that was to be interpreted. Other volumes of commentaries written by Rabbi’s, called “Midrash”, were often discussed by influential leaders. Jesus was being questioned to see what political party or leader he followed. Was he a Pharisee or a Sadducee? Was he taught by the Essenes or did he follow the teachings of the Sanhedrin? Would he vote conservative or liberal? Progressive or Libertarian? Jesus refused to follow any party lines. He summed up the Law in words of love.

The United States of America is a nation of laws. But laws merely define what is permissible or not. It only defines what we can or cannot do. Laws don’t tell us what we should do. Laws define our rights without the necessary counterpart: our responsibilities. My favorite line from Voltaire (and Spider-Man) – “With great power comes great responsibility.”  As Christians living in this nation of laws, we can do better. We can follow Christ’s command to, “love our neighbors as ourselves”. We can exercise our personal rights with great responsibility in caring for others. A true YOUnited States is less focused on getting our way and is instead focused on following God’s way. May God’s Law of Love guide you this week and always.

In Christ’s Service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn


Downfall: Pride

“Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!” 2 Kings‬ ‭19:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A pastor was recently telling my prayer group that lately that he was feeling like the joint in the middle of a mobile. He felt like the section that holds all the floating toys above a crib. He shared that on his “mobile” were all the employees of the church, the bills the ministry had to pay, and his wife and family.  The needs of people within the church were  spinning with people that were dying, those that were just kicked out of their homes, couples that were going through divorces.
His pain and pressure hit close to my heart and the hearts of many pastors in the room.


Pastors carry the weight of a lot ministry concerns and also their personal family lives, and friendships. So, if I’m this joint in the middle how do I balance it all? I began to pray into that question and realized that a big part of being a Christian is not being that joint. Although we have responsibilities, and although we matter, Christ is the joint. Jesus is what is holding us all together. It is our pride that makes us think we need to be in the center.  God should be at the center of our life mobile because only God can care for all things. He’ll take care of us, and he’ll take care of the people that we’re responsible for. May God show all of us our part in helping to take care of others.  May God release us from having to be everything for everybody. May you remind us God that you are the one who holds it all together.
 
In Christ’s Service, 
 
Pastor Paul 


Downfall: Divided Families

“I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes.” 1 Kings 14:8

 

There is a story about a king who sends his military out to defend the Kingdom. A knight and his men return to their castle after a long hard day of fighting.”How are we faring?” asks the king. “Sire,” replies the knight, “I have been robbing and pillaging on your behalf all day, burning the towns of your enemies in the west.” “What?!” shrieks the king.  “I don’t have any enemies to the west!”
“Oh, no…” says the knight.  “Well, you do now.”

 
It is easy to have divided kingdom’s and divided families. Misunderstandings happen. Bad communication can contribute to the problem. It is hard to maintain unity. In today’s scripture passage, division is occurring in the nation of Israel. Selfishness, pride, and sin are all at the root of the division. This passage reminds us to be careful. We must always be vigilant to watch out for division. Today’s Scripture reminds us that following God with all our heart leads us to building the kingdom of God rather than dividing it. This week reflect on how the Reign of God heals strife in your own life.
 
In Christ’s Service, 
 
Pastor Paul 


Downfall:The Rise & Fall of a Kingdom

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

  • 1 Kings 3:7-9

 

It was supposed to be my dream team.  A team made up of the best softball players I know.  We were going to be invincible.  We should have dominated the tournament, but instead I think we lost 4 out of 5.  Humbly we were forced to admit defeat and head home early.  

 

No one expects to get tripped up.  No one sets out on a hike thinking, “today is going to be a great day to take a fall.”  No, it often catches us by surprise.  But what if there were some warning signs we could pay attention to?  What if we could avoid it?  What can we learn from the Downfall of others so we can avoid making the same mistakes?  

 

Solomon was only about 20 years old when he became King of Israel.  He was young, inexperienced and tasked with not only ruling God’s chosen people, but with building a temple worthy of God.  Talk about overwhelming circumstances.  So when the Lord appears to Solomon in a dream and encourages him to ask for whatever he wants, Solomon asks for wisdom.  

 

Kingdoms rise and fall with wisdom.  Wisdom can build a great nation, a strong kingdom, a house that stands.  But the absence of wisdom, or a choice to ignore wisdom’s advice can be costly, and eventually it would cost Solomon the kingdom.  We may not be building a monarchy, but each of us have “kingdoms” of our own.  No matter how hard we try though, no kingdom is invincible when we build them in our own strength.  Instead, we are encouraged from Solomon’s story to build our kingdoms with the wisdom of God.  

 

In Christ’s Service,

 

Pastor Gordon


Rising to the Challenge: Purpose and Passion

Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”                                                                                               Judges‬ ‭16:28‬
 
 
Most people know only fragments about the Old Testament judge Samson. He had long hair, superhuman strength, and was seduced by Delilah. Yet, there is so much more worth knowing. Like many of us, Samson allowed himself to be controlled by his appetites. Samson’s life was out of control. Judges 14 through 16 details the drama and violence of Samson’s life: his wedding, his fits of rage, his slaughters, and  his encounter by the seductress Delilah.
 
 
Samson lost everything before he realized what really matters. It wasn’t too late for Samson, and it’s not too late for you. You don’t have to resign yourself to the way you are, fearing you’ll never be changed. You can change just like Samson, not by your own power but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you recall how Samson’s story ends? God strengthened him once more, and he toppled the pillars of the Philistine house. But that’s not all, there’s a jaw-dropping footnote about Samson’s life. Hebrews 11:32 lists him as a man of faith. Samson’s failures didn’t disqualify him from God’s family.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastors Paul and Deb Marzahn


Rising to the Challenge: Courage

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”                                                                      Judges 6:12
 
In the book of Judges we see many demonstrations of courage. We see a woman named Deborah lead an army of Israelites into battle. She faces huge adversity with courage.  We also see a man named Gideon who fights battles as God’s mighty warrior. He leads a small band of 300 men to take on an entire army of Midianites.  The Judges confronted fear and with God’s help became “mighty warriors.”
 
A mighty American warrior was a woman named Eleanor Roosevelt. She overcame tremendous adversity as the First Lady during World War Two. She stated: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, `I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
 
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastors Paul and Deb Marzahn



Rising to the Challenge: Step Up

But then GOD raised up judges who saved them from their plunderers. But they wouldn’t listen to their judges; they prostituted themselves to other gods—worshiped them! They lost no time leaving the road walked by their parents, the road of obedience to GOD’s commands. They refused to have anything to do with it.       Judges‬ ‭2:16-17‬
 
One of our biggest struggles is passing on our faith to the next generation. The Hebrew people had left the oppression of slavery in Egypt and had conquered the promised land. Now they were entering into a new chapter in their faith journey. The battle before the Israelites was now spiritual. They needed to obey God’s Word and follow God’s law. When Joshua and his generation passed away, the spiritual devotion to God also started passing away. As they moved further from God their lives became more difficult.
 
As parents, grandparents and friends we need to rise to the challenge of living out our faith and then sharing it with others. Why is it we want our kids in the best schools, the best sports programs, best music programs, but then do so little to raise them up in their faith?  How do we demonstrate with the next generation the importance of engaging in a daily devotion life, worship and the study of God’s Word in small groups? Allow your faith to become contagious to others. Step up your faith walk and you will see others grow as well.
 
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastors Paul and Deb Marzahn


Rising to the Challenge: Decide

Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve …..But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

                                                                          Joshua‬ ‭24:14-15‬ ‭
 

Decisions, decisions, decisions….

 

It is something we have to do every day. We make simple decisions like what to wear and what to eat. Some decisions seem to be made for us like taxes. By April 15th we will all need to file something. If not then the government will make even more decisions for you as to where you will live and what you will eat in prison. The most difficult decisions are ones that have long term effects. What career path to take or what relationships we want to continue. These decisions impact us for years to come.

 
The ultimate decision is determining what we believe. Joshua in today’s Scripture is challenging the Hebrew people. He is reminding them of what God has done to be faithful to them. He is also challenging them to be faithful to God just as God has been faithful to them. Joshua as the leader explains how he and his family will be following God. Now it is their turn. Will they follow God and God’s Law or will they follow the pagans around them? The decision is before them. The decision is also before us. Do our decisions draw us closer to Christ or further from Him? Are we ready to follow Jesus?
 
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
 
Pastors Paul and Deb Marzahn


Rise to the Challenge

The gym I belong to used to issue monthly challenges. Even though I didn’t always participate in them, I appreciated the challenge because I knew it would push me outside of my comfort zone and would help me grow in my strength. The purpose of a good challenge is to help us grow. If the challenge is too great, then we may be quick to give in and move on to something we can handle. How is it we can rise to the challenges ahead? By rising to the challenge in God’s strength.
 
When God lead the Israelites to the promise land, the challenge was just beginning. The Israelites still needed to take possession of the land the Lord their God was giving them. Yes God had promised them the land, but it wasn’t empty. Instead they needed to rise to the challenge.
 
In Joshua, the Lord calls forth a new generation of Leadership. Joshua and Israel are encouraged to be strong and courageous as they prepare for challenge ahead. With each conquest, Israel starts living into God’s promises through their faith. God doesn’t just give them the land, no, they must rise to the challenge in faith, learning to trust God and recognize that God is fighting on their behalf. It is a story of continued faith in God, recognizing God as the source of their strength.
 
We all have our challenges. Rather than pulling back or giving in, what would it look like if we started rising to the challenge in faith? What if we started fighting our battles with our prayers? What would it mean for us to find encouragement and hope in knowing that God is with us? It is time for us to rise to the challenge. It is time for us to discover God’s strength.
 

In Christ’s Service,

Pastor Gordon Deuel


Revenant

For as yet they did not know (understand) the statement of Scripture that He must rise again from the dead.                                                 John 20:9     
                       
I have to admit when my son Josh asked me to see the movie “Revenant,” I was not anxious to go. Isn’t this about some guy in the wilderness who gets mauled by a bear? I looked up the word Revenant in the dictionary and learned it is of French origin and it means “someone who has come back from the dead.”
 
Easter is all about Jesus coming back from the dead. The early disciples struggled with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Many followers of Jesus still struggle with this historic event today. When we understand the importance of the cross and the resurrection, we realize Jesus is the son of God who came to save us. Without the resurrection, Jesus is just another great teacher and martyr.  Jesus came back from the dead and promised we will too if we believe in Him. May you experience the Revenant faith of Jesus Christ this Easter in your life.
 
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
 

Pastors Paul & Deb Marzahn