Weekly Devotion
 
 
 
 
 
 

All I Want For Christmas – Joy

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” L‭uke‬ ‭1:44-45‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 

Elizabeth had been basking in the miracle of a surprise pregnancy for about six months when Mary arrived at her house. Mary had hurried to visit her older relative Elizabeth, as she processed all that was happening in her world. When Mary entered the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth, the baby boy within the womb of Elizabeth jumped for JOY! The instant John, although unborn, sensed that he was in the presence of Jesus the Messiah, he leaped for JOY!

John, still in his mother’s womb and unable to see Jesus with his natural eyes, knew he was in the presence of the Lord. There was only one possible response to the presence of the Lord, and that was JOY! Elizabeth expressed to Mary this was no soft little nudging she felt from the baby within – it was a gargantuan leap! John was exploding with JOY at being in the presence of Jesus! The spirit of John was responding to the Spirit of Jesus Christ where there is always fullness of JOY.

When Jesus walks into our world, homes, and lives we also experience JOY. Our heart should begin to jump just like John’s. Having our children home for Christmas, receiving mountains of gifts, decorating the house, or eating fancy culinary concoctions…these things add to our JOY. Yet they can’t substitute for the JOY we receive from a relationship with Jesus. This Christmas make room for His presence. May we spend time worshiping Him at church with friends and family and experience the JOY of the season.

 

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



All I Want For Christmas – Peace

“And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11

 

From the time the wise men brought gifts to Jesus, Christmas has been a time of giving. We give gifts to our loved ones, the less fortunate, the church, favorite charities, family, friends, and even our pets. Unfortunately, sometimes we concentrate so much on the gifts we want to give and receive from one another we miss the special gifts Christmas has for us. Christmas has amazing gifts for us, but we need the miracle of God’s grace to see, feel, hear, and celebrate them.

 

Many of these gifts are intangible gifts we receive by having a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. These gifts are experiencing part of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. We can experience HOPE for the future and PEACE on earth in the here and now.  When we focus on the Kingdom we experience JOY to the world in relevant ways. The biggest gift we receive at Christmas is the fact that LOVE conquers all through the incarnation and sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. May the greatest gift you receive this year come from the hope, peace, joy, and love of Jesus Christ. May the birth of Jesus be the tangible reminder a relationship with Him is all we really need for Christmas.

 

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



All I Want For Christmas – Hope

“She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21

Have you ever noticed people live up to or down to their names? I knew a woman named Sunny from Rotary Club. She lived up to her name as she was always bright and cheerful. We have a young teen named “Sophia” (Sophie) at CROSSROADS. In Greek, the name “Sophia” means wisdom and this young lady is extremely wise. I knew a man named John Wesley Smith and he was indeed a fine Methodist preacher. The importance of names is a powerful and significant theme in the Bible. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible states it this way, “The giving of personal names in ancient Israel was not merely for the purpose of providing a distinct label for an individual but was common for expressing religious convictions associated with the birth of a child or a future. For example, the name Moses literally means, ‘drawn up from the water.’”

The name Yeshua (Joshua) in Hebrew, or Jesus in Greek, literally means savior or the Lord’s helper. Joshua also means wall breaker. Remember what happened in Jericho? The good news is Christ lived up to His name. Christ is our Savior. Christ is our Redeemer. He is a wall breaker that gets rid of division and reminds us we are all a part of God’s family. He makes us all one.  He offers HOPE in a hopeless world. This Christmas season, continue to look for hope remembering God sent His son as Savior to bring hope through His name. May God bless you this Christmas season with hope for you and those you love.

In Christ’s love and service,

Paul Marzahn



I Love My Church – I Am Thankful For CROSSROADS

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—” ‭‭

1 Timothy‬ ‭2:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

As Thanksgiving Day approaches many are pondering all they are grateful and thankful for. Both Thanksgiving and thankful hashtags will be attached to millions of images for social media to peruse. But there is one image I pray is at the forefront of many of our minds as we approach Thanksgiving: Christ, the Savior of the world, dying for you and me, creating a way. A way for us to not only lay hold of the promise of Heaven after our earthly journey is over, but a way for us to usher in God’s Kingdom here on earth. I pray we are grateful when we see God’s Kingdom on display. I love CROSSROADS CHURCH because I am blessed to see God at work through our community of believers.

 

Every now and then I get choked up because I get feedback at how much CROSSROADS is making a difference in Lakeville, Minneapolis, and Inver Grove Heights. I was helping at Grocery Giveaway this month and I helped a woman bring groceries to her car. She was an older woman in her 90’s. She said CROSSROADS has literally saved her life. She was struggling to feed her extended family, many who are ill or on disability. Other food shelves rejected giving her enough food because the other family members were too ill to get to the food shelf themselves. She was so grateful for CROSSROADS because we trusted her with ample food for her and her extended family. Now they are getting healthy and are able to get back to work. I prayed with her at the end of our conversation and I loved her response, “How can I be praying for you, Pastor Paul and CROSSROADS CHURCH?”

 

I am so blessed and many of you are as well. May you share your blessings this Thanksgiving season with others. May you not only recognize God in your midst on Thanksgiving but throughout the year. May we all move from Thanksgiving people to a “Thanksliving” community of Christ followers.

 

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



I Love My Church – I Love How Generous We Are

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:38‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I was blessed on Sunday at CROSSROADS to listen to my good friend Pastor Don Eslinger teach on generosity. I loved his story about a family who gave a beggar needing food their leftovers to eat. They were later doing the family budget and their young son was listening. The mom and dad discussed how much they needed for housing, food, and transportation. They then mentioned they could give the leftover money after bills to God. Their young son asked, “Is God a beggar?” The mom replied, “of course not!” So the son asked, “then why are we giving God our leftovers?” Seeing generosity through the eyes of our children can be powerful.
 
Why do we give God our “first fruits?” The pattern in Scripture is we are asked to give God our best. We are asked to give the first part of our harvest (or income.) The joy of giving far surpasses the fleeting happiness of holding on to our things. Giving recalibrates our hearts towards loving God, rather than holding on to temporary things. Jesus said, “it is better to give than to receive.” Could it be if we say yes to giving, our lives will be filled with more purpose and joy?
 
I know in my life tithing to the church has brought me joy as I see how my investment has changed lives. I have witnessed children learn important values through our Kids Own Worship and CROSSTRAINING ministries. I have experienced youth who have contemplated suicide and have found new hope in Christ. CROSSROADS has helped save their lives. I have seen CROSSROADS ministry strengthen marriages, counsel hurting people, pray for healing, and encourage parents. Many at CROSSROADS have grown spiritually through our dynamic worship and our life-changing small groups. I am so blessed to be a part of the CROSSROADS family. I love my church!
 
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


I Love My Church – I Love Our Youth

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” – Hebrews‬ ‭11:1-2‬ ‭NIV
 

The Apostles’ Creed begins with the words “I believe in.” The Creed is an affirmation of the Christian story. It affirms the basic doctrines of our faith. The Creed is more than just an individual statement; it’s both personal and corporate. As you read and reflect on the Creed you are surrounded by “a large cloud of witnesses” who have gone before you (Heb. 12:1), and you identify with the Universal Church.

In the early church, uttering the word “I believe” meant identifying in the closest possible way with the gospel. When believers said the Creed, they were identifying themselves as citizens of a different kingdom—the kingdom of God. This meant, and still means today, that believers could face persecution, alienation, and even death. The Creed is far more than a list of propositions; it’s the summary of the faith that has been practiced throughout church history.  The scriptural truths contained in the Creed help us operate from good theology, with the knowledge that our faith is rooted in a rich history that spans past, present, and future. The lines of the Creed aren’t mere words. They convey the essence of what we confess and believe as the body of Christ.

This Sunday our youth and young adults will be leading worship at the Lakeville Campus. One youth at Lakeville is confirming his faith and sharing what he believes about God. Our Youth Directors Grace Dietz and Anthony Perry will be sharing a special message on the basics of faith. The Inver Grove Heights Campus is doing an ecumenical Service with New Heights Church with a luncheon following. Pastor Dan Schauer will be sharing the message. All of us will be reciting the Apostles Creed and affirming what we believe. Please read and reflect on the Creed this week in preparation for this Sunday’s worship.
 
Ecumenical Version
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
 
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
 

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



I Love My Church – I Love How We Give

“I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” – ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I love CROSSROADS CHURCH! I love how people have generous hearts and give generously. When we give generously to God three blessings happen. The first blessing is that we make God smile. Imagine God with a big grin! The Bible says our gifts, given freely, “are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” God loves a cheerful giver and it pleases God to see His children be generous.

A second blessing is we gain a deep sense of personal satisfaction. We are designed for worship, and worshiping with your wallet is perhaps the most sincere form of all. A generous spirit is a good personal indicator of whether or not our faith is real. When a believer is mature in their faith, giving is actually fun! Giving produces joy as a byproduct of living in God’s will.

A final blessing of giving to the Lord is resources are reinvested and make ministry happen. At CROSSROADS we invest money to change lives. Our gifts of money make it possible for the Word of God to touch the more hearts and lives of people both locally and those who live on the other side of the globe. Through relevant worship, discipleship of our youth & children, and impactful outreach we are able to make a difference. Giving makes a real world difference in ushering in the Kingdom of God.

When we give to CROSSROADS, it is our prayer that we will experience the blessings of giving. We pray each of us will realize the joy of giving and see the fruits of life transformation. We pray all of us will give with “glad and sincere hearts” like the believers in the Acts 2 Church.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



I Love My Church – All Saints Day

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NIV‬

Each of us who are part of CROSSROADS CHURCH didn’t end up here by chance. Our parents, grandparents, friends, pastors, spouses, and others have helped to shape our understanding of who God is and helped us to become Christians. I know in my own life I’m usually so busy, I never take time to thank God for working through those “saints of the church” to create and maintain faith in me. Today on “All Saints Day”, I invite you to do just that.

Imagine there are a number of these saints standing around you. Close your eyes for a moment, and put faces on those saints. Remember the ones who “dragged you” to church or youth group. Remember the ones who first opened your eyes to the beauty of reading Scriptures. Think about the ones who took time to listen to you, even when what you had to say wasn’t all that interesting. What pastor first touched your head and your heart? Who first shared what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Reflect on the ones who were there for you when tragedy struck your life or family. What “saints” of the church came alongside you when you needed them most?

Prayer – We give thanks today on this All Saints Day for the Saints of old like Peter, James, John, and Paul. We also give thanks for the modern Saints and in particular for those people who have shaped our own faith. May each of these saints and the many others we lift up in prayer rest in Your eternal loving arms now and forever. Amen.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



I Love My Church – I Love How We Serve

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John‬ ‭13:12, 14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Whoever wants to be a leader among you,” Jesus said, “must be your servant.” The Greek original of this reads more literally, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” The word translated here as servant is “diakonos” (the word sometimes used to refer to a table waiter). A “diakonos” cared for the needs of others rather than his or her own needs. It denotes a person who serves in some subservient and humble role. Jesus’s vision of a servant heart must have shocked His disciples. Most people tend to seek position and power rather than opportunities for humble service. We prefer to remain comfortable rather than sacrifice. Servanthood is as countercultural today as it was in the time of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t just talk about it, but demonstrates it by washing their feet. He humbled Himself to show His love.
 
This past week I had someone demonstrate servanthood to me. Some of us were volunteering at our Inver Grove Heights Campus of CROSSROADS to do some carpentry work. A lot of the work was actually on our knees putting in wood trim. One of the men working could see I was struggling with being on the hard tile with my knees. He had come prepared and had worn protective knee pads. Before I could say “no” he had taken them off and given them to me so I could be more comfortable on the floor. I told him that my knees should be tougher as a pastor since I spend time on them praying. We laughed together, but it really humbled me that he shared his knee pads so I could work more comfortably. I love how CROSSROADS serves together!
 

All around us we have so many opportunities to demonstrate a servant heart. We can serve our families and friends. We can approach our work with a humble servant attitude. We can also volunteer time at church and other organizations to tangibly demonstrate God’s love. My prayer this week is for the Holy Spirit to transform our thinking and our attitudes. May we all receive help to see the needs of those around us and reach out to care for them.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



I Love My Church – Go Public

Secret relationships are usually not healthy. When a married person is having an affair, the person they are seeing on the side has to remain a secret. They can never take that person anywhere publicly, and never say anything publicly about them. They often set up a situation where the relationship is non-existent except between the two of them.

I wonder if sometimes God feels like a secret relationship. People want a personal relationship with Him, but they’re not proud of Him in public. Nobody else knows they’re Christians. If you look at their twitter feed, Instagram or Facebook page, God is never mentioned. God is not honored publicly. The body of Christ – the church – is never discussed.

The Bible encourages us to be proud of our relationship with God and to go public with it. Churches provide a public place to worship and acknowledge our love for the Lord with an audience. When you worship and praise God with your friends, they know how you feel. Your friends also see you are proud enough of God to claim Him publicly. They also become encouraged by your attendance and participation in worship.

Here are a few words of inspiration from Psalm 96:7-8, “Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his house.” God wants us to share how much we love Him. Go public and show the world you are proud of God and grateful to Him for what He’s done for you. Tweet a Scripture on Twitter, post a picture from Sunday morning worship on Instagram, write a review on Yelp, or do all three on Facebook. Go public with your faith and let others know you love CROSSROADS CHURCH. Don’t keep God a secret. Let others know about this incredible relationship so they can experience it as well.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn

I LOVE MY CHURCH CELEBRATION – November 11th – 9:30 AM

We are working hard to put together an amazing CELEBRATION where we can enjoy great worship and fantastic fellowship. We want you to be a part of this day. Please fill out the response link here to let us know your menu selection (beef, chicken, or vegetarian) for the meal. You may also fill out a paper copy on Sunday mornings and place it in the offering plate. Even if you do not plan to attend please return a response of “Regretful Absentee” so you will not be called by our follow up team. We want 100 percent participation and as many people as possible for our group photo that day. Please sign up now!